At 4.35pm the FTSE 100 was up 61 points at 6150. Despite very unappetising data from China, Asian markets kept their poise, allowing London, after a neutral session yesterday, to modestly pick up the cudgel. The FTSE was aided and abetted by a strong opening on the Street of Dreams, which is currently up 170 points.
Barclays’ results dominated the headlines, with Jes Staley the new CEO using every opportunity to provide copy and comment on every major TV and radio operator. The results were disappointing with the dividend cut this year and probably next. The sale of assets in Europe cost about £750 million and Barclays Africa or 62% of it is up for sales. Investment banking, which used to be this bank’s ‘jewel in the crown’ is likely to see lower profits next year, thanks to cuts in the size of the balance sheet, with New York no longer as preeminent as it was. It was hard to see where the good news was going to emanate from. There are still far too many impairment charges, fines and litigation costs – little change out of £3.5 billion in total last year.
The Amanda Staveley spat still hangs over this bank. The 45 year old deal-maker, who may charm the birds off the trees, whilst eating nails for breakfast has too much at stake to settle sensibly out of court. Anyway the long and the short of it was that Barclays’ shares were briefly suspended, having fallen 11% in value briefly. They have recovered a bit of poise – now down 8.3%. This last happened in February otherwise we go back to the HBOS, RBS and Northern Rock in 2008. I was astonished that Barclays announced that the press would no longer have access to any research work. That is very short sighted when you are looking for friends in these troubled times. Also such as I have seen Mr Staley needs to worry a little less on BREXIT and more on the bank’s future plans.
Oils were slightly down – -0.75%. Retail and household stocks were in good form – Unilever +1.75% and Diageo +1%. Of the miners Glencore, post their results, are just over 2% down with Fresnillio down a painful 9%. Of other companies posting numbers Moneysupermarket was 3% to the good, Taylor Wimpey up 0.6% after a decent run on the rails. Direct line really pleased its acolytes in gaining 6%. Just Eat had a torrid day. The stock opened up 5.5% on what appeared to be good numbers then went down 6% and at the close were down only 1%. The LSE, buoyed by a another bid from ICE saw its shares bounce by 7.5%