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Weekly review

By Josh White

Date: Friday 17 Jan 2020

(Sharecast News) - The FTSE 100 ended the week up 86.71 points at 7,674.56.
Equity view

Rio Tinto reported a 3% fall in iron ore shipments in 2019 as a cyclone and a fire at a port facility disrupted operations.

Credit-checking firm Experian reported a 9% jump in total third-quarter revenue on Friday as backed its expectations for the year.

A strong performance from the Mr Kipling brand helped to boost sales at Premier Foods over the Christmas period.

NMC Health announced on Friday that its independent review committee has retained Louis Freeh, former US federal judge and FBI director, and his firm Freeh Group International Solutions (FGIS) to examine and compile a report regarding allegations raised in the 17 December report from short seller Muddy Waters.

UK like-for-like third quarter sales at pubs to hotels group Whitbread fell 1.3% as Brexit-related weak accommodation demand offset a strong good performance in food and beverages in "challenging" conditions.

FTSE 250 food manufacturer Bakkavor said on Thursday that full-year results will be in line with expectations, as it posted a rise in sales.

Automotive distributor and retailer Inchcape has agreed to buy Daimler's Mercedes-Benz passenger car and private vans distribution operations in Colombia for an undisclosed sum.

British regional carrier Flybe was saved from collapse on Tuesday night after the government and airline's shareholders reached a deal to keep it in the air.

Troubled house builder Persimmon reported a fall in full year revenue as it spent more cash fixing poor quality homes after an independent review last month slammed the standards of the company's work.

Diploma said on Wednesday that it traded in line in the first quarter as it backed its expectations for the full year.

Vistry Group updated the market on trading in its Bovis Homes operation for the year ended 31 December on Wednesday, reporting that it expected to deliver another record year of profits, slightly ahead of market consensus.

Doorstep lender Provident Financial said on Wednesday that 2019 profits were set to meet market expectations following a solid performance from Vanquis Bank in the fourth quarter.

Builders merchant Grafton on Tuesday reported better-than-expected trading conditions in November and December despite a weaker UK market.

House builder Taylor Wimpey said it expected full year results to be in line with expectations as it welcomed increased political stability after the UK General Election.

Specialty chemicals company Elementis updated the market on its trading on Tuesday, reporting that the final quarter of the year had been "somewhat subdued", and as a result, adjusted operating profit for 2019 was now expected to be between $122m and $124m (£94.04m and £95.58m).

PageGroup updated the market on its fourth quarter and full year of trading on Tuesday, reporting a 0.4% decline in constant group gross profit in the final three months of the year, or a 2.6% fall at reported rates to £205.6m.

Higher prices helped iron ore pellet producer Ferrexpo offset cost increases as it reported a slight fall in annual production.

LondonMetric Property said it had sold an office park in Worcester for £6.2m, reflecting a net initial yield of 6.7%.

William Hill said on Monday that adjusted operating profit for 2019 is set to come in ahead of market and management expectations, as it announced the departure of chief financial officer Ruth Prior.

Savills said on Monday that underlying results for the year to the end of December are set to be at the upper end of the board's expectations following an "excellent" performance in the UK.

Economic news

UK retail sales unexpectedly fell in December, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics on Friday, adding weight to expectations of a rate cut by the Bank of England this month.

Brussels's Brexit spokesman said on Friday that the UK had ruled out the option of automatically deporting citizens from the European Union that did not apply for settled status after Brexit.

Bank of England policymaker Michael Saunders reiterated his call for an interest rate cut on Wednesday as he said the UK economy has remained "sluggish".

Inflation eased to a three-year low in December, fuelling speculation that the Bank of England could move to cut interest rates later this month.

Prices in the UK housing market gathered pace in the build-up to the general election, with those in the capital ticking upwards for the first time after nearly two years of weak growth.

The prime minister Boris Johnson has formally rejected calls by the Scottish National Party for a second independence referendum.

Britain's Prime Minister said that he would support a deal negotiated by Trump to replace the 2015 nuclear accord.

Former BHS boss Dominic Chappell has been ordered by the Pensions Regulator to pay £9.5m into the now-defunct retailer's pension scheme after a failed appeal.

The latest government data showed that Britain's economy shrank unexpectedly in November, sending the pound lower, but some economists were more upbeat, pointing to upwards revisions to past data to back up their assessment.

The UK government should combat the next recession by investing as much as £50bn into green projects which would reboot the economy and help combat the climate crisis.

International events

Homebuilding activity in the States blew the doors of economists' forecasts in December, but economists were quick to point out that such strength was just not sustainable and some of the underlying data appeared to point in that direction too.

Economic activity in China at the end of 2019 exceeded forecasts, but some economists said that it was too soon to sound the 'all clear'.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, according to figures released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

The US and China on Wednesday signed an agreement in the first phase of a deal designed to ease the long-running trade war between the two countries.

Eurozone industrial production rose less than expected in November, according to figures released by Eurostat on Wednesday.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani made a veiled threat to the US and the European Union on local TV on Wednesday, blaming them for what he said were their multiple failures in upholding the 2015 nuclear agreement and because of their military presence in the Middle East.

China's exports grew for the first time in five months in December, official data showed on Tuesday, comfortably beating expectations.

The cost of living in the US rose as expected last month despite sharp increases in prices for medical care commodities and services, thus eliciting scant reaction from economists.

The US government dropped its designation of China as a currency manipulator as both sides moved towards a trade deal.

US intelligence sharing will not be at risk from Chinese spying even if the UK uses Huawei's technology for development of the country's 5G network, said the head of MI5, Andrew Parker.

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