MARKET REPORT: British blue-chips bounce back on strong US jobs growth

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MARKET REPORT: Footsie avoids five-day losing streak as British blue-chips bounce back on strong US jobs growth

After a turbulent few days, the Footsie managed to avoid a five-day losing streak and end the week on a positive note.

Stock markets across the world have been rattled by US-China trade tensions and the prospect of another Trumpian trade war with the EU following a dispute between Washington and Airbus.

Grim data indicating the UK and Germany – Europe’s biggest economy – could be on the brink of a recession have not helped either.

Relief: The US enjoyed a moderate increase in jobs growth last month and there is speculation that Boris Johnson could seek a extension from Brussels if a deal isn't agreed by October 19

Relief: The US enjoyed a moderate increase in jobs growth last month and there is speculation that Boris Johnson could seek a extension from Brussels if a deal isn’t agreed by October 19

But traders breathed a sigh of relief yesterday after data showed the US enjoyed a moderate increase in jobs growth last month and speculation that Boris Johnson could seek a extension from Brussels if a Brexit deal isn’t agreed by October 19.

The US unemployment rate, meanwhile, fell to a 50-year low of 3.5 per cent last month, easing fears over the economy.

Not even news that Hong Kong’s economy is also heading for recession after months of pro-democracy protests, and warnings that the 25 per cent US tariffs on European food products could threaten jobs, could dampen the Friday feeling.

The FTSE 100 closed 1.1 per cent higher, up 77.74 points, at 7155.38 last night, while the FTSE 250 inched up 0.7 per cent, or 132.21 points, to 19480.37.

It was a dour start to the final quarter of the year though, with the Footsie down 3.4 per cent so far this month and 3.6 per cent lower for the week as a whole.

Stock Watch – Gfinity 

Esports group Gfinity has been reappointed by the Premier League to help run the second season of its online football tournament.

The ePremier League allows UK gamers to compete as their favourite Premier League teams through in the Fifa 20 video game.

Gfinity will develop the online qualification system and online play-offs ahead of the finale in March next year, it said in an update late on Thursday. 

Shares fell 2.7 per cent, or 0.1p, to 3.65p yesterday.

Marks & Spencer shed 3.9 per cent, or 7.05p, to 171.85p after a stinging downgrade from ‘hold’ to ‘reduce’ and a lower price target, from 239p to 150p, from HSBC analysts.

Brokers blasted its clothing range, saying it is struggling to establish a ‘contemporary and wearable fashion’ offer, and said the weaknesses in the clothing and home range are chipping away at progress in its food division. 

They downgraded profit forecasts as a result.

In contrast, Exane BNP Paribas brokers only had good things to say about sportswear group JD Sports (up 2.7 per cent, or 19.8p, to 754.2p), giving it an ‘outperform’ rating and saying it is the only Footsie-listed retailer, aside from Ocado (up 2.8 per cent, or 35.5p, to 1284.5p), with material growth prospects.

Footsie-listed defence firm Meggitt was trading 1.7 per cent, or 10.6p, higher at 621.4p after it signed a £39million deal to supply equipment to the US Army.

Zoetic International surged 9.5 per cent, or 0.35p, at 4.03p, after it reported revenues of £1.2million in the six months to September 30, up from £520,000 a year ago, as the company continued its transition from an oil and gas company (it was formerly called Highlands Natural Resources) to a seller of cannabidiol, or CBD, products.

It is generating sales on both sides of the Atlantic and 67 stores in the US are stocking its products.

Pharmacy chain Georgia Healthcare rose 2.7 per cent, or 5.5p, to 207.5p, after inking a deal to bring cosmetics chain The Body shops to the high streets of the Eurasian state. 

It has signed a 10-year franchising deal that will see it open three shops and concessions in 50 of its pharmacies.

AIM-listed Angling Direct was unmoved by the appointment of Andy Torrance, previously operations chief at retailer Holland & Barrett and Dunelm, to the company’s board as a non-executive director.

The Norfolk-based firm, which has become a retail investor favourite, has 30 stores and boasts that it sells 21,500 different fishing tackle-related products. Shares closed flat at 58.5p.

Elsewhere on the junior market, Duke Royalty rose 1.3 per cent, or 0.6p, to 47.6p, after it raised £16million from institutional investors and announced it is looking to raise a further £20million – which it hopes will include a lot of retail shareholders.

 

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