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FTSE 100 Closes Down as Markets Await Fed Chair's Keynote Speech

08/26/2021 | 10:57am EDT

The FTSE 100 closed down 0.4% on Thursday with falls for heavyweight mining stocks Antofagasta and Rio Tinto as investors mull the effects of rising Covid-19 infections world-wide and disruptions to supply chains. Anticipation of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's keynote speech, which will be delivered to the Jackson Hole Conference on Friday, also played its part in the day's sentiment."It's still difficult to envisage that anything he says will change the market's outlook significantly on the timing of a taper. The picture on that is more likely to become clearer in the aftermath of next week's payrolls report," Michael Hewson at CMC Markets said. Irish building-materials supplier CRH PLC was the biggest riser of the day, followed by U.K. broadcaster ITV PLC, and online grocer Ocado Group PLC.

Companies News: 

CRH 1H Pretax Profit Doubled; Sees Market Outlook Improving

CRH PLC said Thursday that first-half pretax profit doubled, helped by a revenue recovery, and that it expects earnings for the second half of the year to be ahead of last year's result amid an improving market outlook.


Polymetal Reports Improved 1H Profit; Raises Capex Guidance

Polymetal International PLC on Thursday reported an improved profit for the first half of the year and raised its capital expenditure guidance for the whole year.


Watches of Switzerland Taps Rank Group for New CFO

Watches of Switzerland Group PLC said Thursday that it has appointed William Floydd as chief financial officer, replacing Anders Romberg who is retiring after seven years in the role.


British Land Redeploying Proceeds From Asset Sales Into Acquisitions

British Land Co. said Thursday that it is redeploying proceeds raised from recent sales of mature assets into acquisitions and value-accretive development opportunities.


Hunting PLC Posts 1H Loss, Expects 2021 Ebitda to Fall $10 Mln

Hunting PLC on Thursday reported a loss for the first half of the year and warned that its full-year performance will be hit by a slower-than-expected market recovery.


Hays Declares Special Dividend After Pandemic Recovery Accelerated in 2H

Hays PLC said Thursday that its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic accelerated in the second half of fiscal 2021, which allowed it to resume dividend payments and declare a special dividend.


Braemar Shipping Services Says Fiscal 2022 Performance to Date Has Been Good

Braemar Shipping Services PLC said Thursday that performance in the first five months of the fiscal year ending in February has been good across all three business units.


MacFarlane Group Raises Full-Year Views After 1H Pretax Profit Doubled

MacFarlane Group PLC said Thursday that it expects to exceed its previous views for 2021 as a whole despite persisting challenges, as it reported a doubled pretax profit for the first half.

Market Talk: 

Polymetal 1H Capex Topped Expectations by 38%

0932 GMT - Polymetal's first-half costs were slightly higher than expected, but capital expenditure of $375 million came in 38% higher than forecast by RBC Capital Markets. This was caused by input cost and wage inflation, as well as scope changes to the Veduga and Prognoz projects, and the acceleration of spending, the bank says. The new full-year guidance of $675 million-$725 million implies that second-half capex should be more in line with previous expectations, RBC says. "Polymetal continues to press on with its growth though the COVID-impacted inflationary environment, but this is coming at a cost." (jaime.llinares@wsj.com)

Hunting's 1H Results Reflect Slower Oil & Gas Recovery, Says RBC

0929 GMT - Hunting's first-half results are broadly in line with expectations and they reflect the current challenging trading environment and a slower-than-anticipated recovery in oil and gas spending by its customers, RBC Capital Markets says. Shares in the energy services group fall 4.1% after it warned 2021 Ebitda is expected to be $10 million lower than in 2020, below market expectations. "Stronger performance from Hunting's Titan business continues month on month as the U.S. rig count has grown, but this is still lower than expected and not enough to offset the challenging environment in the EMEA division and slower recoveries in U.S. and Asia Pacific." RBC has a sector perform rating on the stock. (jaime.llinares@wsj.com)

Hays Gains as UK Staff Shortages Fuel Post-Virus Bounce

0903 GMT - Shares in Hays rise 1.8% after the recruitment-agency group said its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic accelerated in the second half, allowing it to resume dividend payments and declare a special dividend. Hays is benefiting from staff shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the U.K.'s EU exit, as employers pay more to find good candidates, AJ Bell says. "This is helping profit to get back to, and even exceed, pre-pandemic levels faster than expected, in turn underpinning the resumption of ordinary and special dividends," Bell analyst Danni Hewson says. (philip.waller@wsj.com)

CRH Seen Facing Some Headwinds in 2H

0840 GMT - Irish building-materials supplier CRH is guiding for second-half earnings growth but it faces some headwinds which suggest that the rise will likely be below 5%, UBS says. "There were some weather issues in the US in July/August which will hold back performance," UBS says. Moreover, CRH's building-products division will face tougher year-earlier comparative figures in U.S. do-it-yourself spending, as will its Europe materials division, UBS says. However, both divisions should still grow, the bank says. The key catalyst for CRH's shares is the increasing likelihood of a material U.S. infrastructure bill passing, although this will probably be reflected in volumes starting in 2023, UBS says. (adria.calatayud@dowjones.com)

Hays Dividend Policy Is More Generous Than Expected, Jefferies Says

0835 GMT - Hays has surprised the market with a dividend policy that is considerably more generous than expected, which also suggests that the company will have room for sustained investment to take market share, Jefferies says. The U.K. recruitment company is likely to return around GBP500 million, or about one-fifth of its current market capitalization, to shareholders over the next three years, Jefferies says. "This formidable balance sheet should comfortably finance aggressive investment plans," the bank says. Growth investment is expected to rise to GBP20 million, up from GBP15 million in fiscal 2021, and it looks increasingly likely that Hays will be bigger at the next market peak, Jefferies says. Shares rise 1.3%. (adria.calatayud@dowjones.com)

CRH Is Upbeat on Outlook Despite Cost Pressures

0819 GMT - CRH beat expectations for its first-half earnings and struck a positive tone on its outlook despite cost pressures, Berenberg says. The Irish building-materials supplier said it expects Ebitda for the second half to be ahead of the record prior year. In the first half, CRH's Ebitda margin increased, which shows its ability to address cost inflation, Berenberg says. "CRH is upbeat on the U.S. demand outlook and notes the positive progress being made in U.S. infrastructure funding negotiations, which is a significant factor for its mid-term growth profile," Berenberg says. Shares in London rise 1.7%. (adria.calatayud@dowjones.com)

Labor Shortages in the U.K. Aren't Likely to Ease Soon

0724 GMT - Labor shortages in the U.K. will be a long-lasting concern for economic growth even when the pandemic is over, Pantheon Macroeconomics' chief U.K. economist Samuel Tombs says. The workforce was 2.2% smaller in June than it would have been if it had continued to grow at its average rate in the five years before the pandemic, he says. This is partly due to an unusual net emigration of people from the U.K. last year--reflecting the return home of many EU nationals--and a decline in the participation rate, Tombs says. Some pandemic-related constraints are expected to ease over the next six months, but labor supply looks set to be permanently lower than it would have been had the pandemic not occurred, he says. (xavier.fontdegloria@wsj.com)

Contact: London NewsPlus, Dow Jones Newswires; paul.larkins@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

08-26-21 1257ET

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AJ BELL PLC -0.15% 402.2 Delayed Quote.-7.22%
ANTOFAGASTA PLC -2.15% 1430.5 Delayed Quote.-0.69%
AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR / US DOLLAR (AUD/USD) 0.32% 0.7485 Delayed Quote.-2.32%
BRAEMAR SHIPPING SERVICES PLC 0.00% 258 Delayed Quote.66.45%
BRITISH POUND / US DOLLAR (GBP/USD) 0.10% 1.38045 Delayed Quote.1.08%
CANADIAN DOLLAR / US DOLLAR (CAD/USD) 0.16% 0.80955 Delayed Quote.3.27%
CMC MARKETS PLC -1.63% 271.5 Delayed Quote.-30.56%
CRH PLC -1.69% 40.65 Real-time Quote.21.55%
DJ INDUSTRIAL -0.02% 35603.08 Delayed Quote.15.85%
EURO / US DOLLAR (EUR/USD) 0.04% 1.163 Delayed Quote.-4.60%
FTSE 100 -0.45% 7190.3 Delayed Quote.11.80%
HAYS PLC 0.25% 162.4 Delayed Quote.13.57%
HUNTING PLC -0.40% 197.2 Delayed Quote.-11.57%
INDIAN RUPEE / US DOLLAR (INR/USD) -0.09% 0.01336 Delayed Quote.-2.34%
ITV PLC -0.43% 105.05 Delayed Quote.-1.64%
LONDON BRENT OIL 0.64% 84.88 Delayed Quote.64.56%
MACFARLANE GROUP PLC -0.75% 132.5 Delayed Quote.51.43%
NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR / US DOLLAR (NZD/USD) 0.16% 0.71682 Delayed Quote.0.26%
OCADO GROUP PLC 1.16% 1838.5 Delayed Quote.-19.61%
POLYMETAL INTERNATIONAL PLC -1.01% 1377 Delayed Quote.-18.25%
RIO TINTO PLC -4.69% 4656.5 Delayed Quote.-15.01%
THE BRITISH LAND COMPANY PLC 0.12% 485.8 Delayed Quote.-0.65%
THE RANK GROUP PLC -1.47% 160.6 Delayed Quote.15.37%
UBS GROUP AG -0.53% 15.935 Delayed Quote.28.47%
WATCHES OF SWITZERLAND GROUP PLC 0.56% 1080 Delayed Quote.86.53%
WTI 0.58% 82.711 Delayed Quote.71.24%
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