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BHP reports fall in iron ore output, Domino's Pizza Group to leave international markets

By Josh White

Date: Thursday 17 Oct 2019

(Sharecast News) - London open

The FTSE 100 is expected to open 14 points higher on Thursday, having closed down 0.61% at 7,167.95 on Wednesday.
Stocks to watch

BHP said it would make a final investment decision on the massive $17bn Canadian potash project in 2021. The world's biggest miner launched the project in 2013 to diversify activities and on Thursday approved a further $345m on preparation spending. BHP also reported a 1% year-on-year fall in third quarter iron ore output to 69m tonnes as it maintained its annual production forecast of 273m - 286m tonnes.

Domino's Pizza Group said it will leave its international markets following a strategic review and a disappointing third quarter performance, which saw sales decline in Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. Meanwhile, sales in the UK and Republic of Ireland increased by 4% despite challenging conditions and the impact of a franchisee dispute, which the takeaway pizza giant said will likely continue into 2020.

Grafton Group updated the market on its third quarter trading following the sale of Plumbase and its Belgian operations on Thursday, reporting that like-for-like group revenue from continuing operations was ahead 0.9%, and total revenue up 4.5% for the three months ended 30 September. The FTSE 250 company said that, following an "encouraging" start, trading towards the end of the quarter and more recently was impacted by a softening in activity.

Newspaper round-up

Millions more people in Britain are without a job than shown by official unemployment figures, according to a study that suggests the jobless rate should be almost three times higher. According to research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Centre for Cities think tank, large levels of "hidden" unemployment in towns and cities across Britain are excluded from the official government statistics. - Guardian

Trade union officials and MPs have voiced fresh concerns about the prospect of British Steel being sold to the Turkish military pension fund. Ataer Holdings, owned by the Turkish army retirement fund Oyak, is in exclusive talks to buy British Steel out of liquidation, with the result of discussions likely to be announced within weeks. If it goes ahead, the takeover is expected to secure the future of a site in Scunthorpe, one of the UK's last two blast furnace steelworks, as well as the jobs of more than 4,000 staff. - Guardian

The next Bank of England Governor must be positive about Britain's future, encourage Government investment and keep interest rates above zero, Dame Helena Morrissey has said. She is a Brexiteer, star fund manager and potential candidate to replace Mark Carney, though she has not commented on her own chances of getting the job. - Telegraph

Metro Bank is under pressure from the Bank of England to hire an industry veteran as its next chairman, as the troubled lender braces for another set of gloomy financial results. The lender is understood to be facing demands to hire an experienced insider in place of Metro founder Vernon Hill, who is stepping down as chairman following a disastrous year in which a major accounting gaffe left investors nursing huge losses. - Telegraph

The chairman and founder of Berkeley Group has banked almost £80 million in the past three months after selling shares in the housebuilder. Tony Pidgley, 72, sold a million shares in the FTSE 100 company for £42 million this week, on top of the million shares he sold for £37.2 million in July. The latest sale reduced his stake in the business by a quarter. He now holds a 2.1 per cent stake that was worth more than £120 million at last night's share price close of £44.54. - The Times

US close

US stocks finished in the red on Wednesday, as investors kept watch on Brexit negotiations in Europe, and digested some lacklustre retail figures and more earnings from some of the nation's biggest firms.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the session down 0.08% at 27,001.98, the S&P 500 was off 0.2% at 2,989.69, and the Nasdaq 100 lost 0.29% to 7,920.21.

At the open, the Dow was 19.46 points lower after closing higher in the previous session, amid earnings from some of America's major banks.

Stocks continued to slip through the session as market participants closely monitored the latest Brexit developments, even as officials and diplomats said that differences over the terms of Britain's withdrawal from the European Union had narrowed significantly.

The news boosted hopes that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be able to come to an agreement with EU heads at a key summit in Brussels on Thursday, though by the end of the US session little progress had been seen.

In US-Sino trade news, China's Foreign Ministry said it would take countermeasures against the US in response to a bill that was said to favour Hong Kong protesters.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that there were questions regarding how much more US agricultural products China actually planned on buying and for how long.

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