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Strong clearing performance drives LSE growth, Avast revenue improves in line with forecasts

By Josh White

Date: Friday 18 Oct 2019

(Sharecast News) - London open

The FTSE 100 is expected to open 35 points lower on Friday, having closed up 0.2% at 7,182.32 on Thursday.

Stocks to watch

Third quarter income at the London Stock Exchange rose 12% to £587m driven by a strong performance in its clearing division. Gross profit for the period rose 14% to £529m as the company said its planned £22bn takeover of data provider Refinitiv was still expected to complete in the second half of 2020.

Dechra Pharmaceuticals said it remained confident about its prospects for the current financial year in a trading update on Friday. The FTSE 250 company, which was holding its annual general meeting later in the day, said work was continuing to resolve the supply issues it had previously highlighted, with many of those having now been mitigated. It said it would announce its interim results for the six months ended 31 December on 24 February.

Avast reported third quarter adjusted revenue growth of 5% to £220.3m, consistent with the expectations laid out in its half year results in back in August. The global cybersecurity provider consequently reaffirmed its full year guidance for adjusted revenue to be at the upper end of high single digit growth, when excluding FX, discontinued business and the sale of its managed workplace business.

Newspaper round-up

The head of the International Monetary Fund jumped for joy on hearing that Britain had struck a draft Brexit deal with the European Union as the global community swung behind efforts to get the agreement over the line. Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF managing director, and David Malpass, president of the World Bank, welcomed the end to the uncertainty that the agreement promises if it clears parliament this weekend. - The Times

Opposition parties have threatened to force a referendum on the agreement when MPs gather at Westminster tomorrow for a knife-edge vote on the deal. In a bid to help convince wavering MPs, EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker warned there would be "no prolongation". But he was contradicted by the European Council President Donald Tusk in a blow to the Prime Minister's hopes of creating a 'deal or no-deal' showdown. Mr Johnson appealed to parliamentarians and the country to "come together" and back his compromise, saying it offered an escape from the "painful" three and a half year Brexit process. - Scotsman

The Confederation of British Industry has served Labour with a challenge to publish the full details of its nationalisation plans, in the latest twist of an increasingly bitter row. Britain's leading business group hit back amid mounting pressure over its claim that Labour's nationalisation plans would cost £196bn, releasing further details of how it came up with the price tag. - The Guardian

WH Smith has stepped up its overseas expansion with a $400m takeover of Marshall Retail Group in the United States. The buyout will broadly double the size of the stationery retailer's international travel business and follows its $198m takeover of the US business Inmotion last October. Marshalls has 170 shops in North America, 59 of them inside airports, making $84 million in sales last year. - The Times

Hargreaves Lansdown has come under fire from savers after the collapse of Neil Woodford's investment empire. Many investors say they only put their money in the fund manager's doomed funds because they were championed on Hargreaves best-buy list. The role played by the UK's biggest online funds supermarket is being examined by the Financial Conduct Authority. - The Daily Mail

US close

US stocks finished in the green on Thursday, as investors took the chance to catch their breath after a draft Brexit deal was struck between UK and EU officials, and on the back of solid earnings from more blue-chip companies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 0.09% at 27,025.88, the S&P 500 added 0.28% to 2,997.95, and the Nasdaq 100 was also 0.28% firmer, closing at 7,942.14.

At the open, the Dow had added 86.29 points after closing out the previous session lower, as investors monitored the Brexit negotiations, digested some lacklustre retail figures and sifted through more earnings reports from some of the country's biggest firms.

However, sentiment got a boost after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed that he had "a great new Brexit deal" via Twitter.

Johnson implored MPs to support the deal when it's put before Parliament on Saturday, while European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he felt the deal was "fair and balanced".

But despite the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party vowing to not support the plans "as it stands", markets on both sides of the Atlantic rallied on the news.

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