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ADVFN Morning London Market Report: Monday 20 November 2023

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London open: Stocks edge down as Ashtead, Compass slide


London stocks edged lower in early trade on Monday, dragged down by heavy losses for the likes of Ashtead and Compass, as investors looked ahead to the Autumn Statement this week.

At 0830 GMT, the FTSE 100 was down 0.3% at 7,480.66.

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The pre-Autumn Statement weekend offered fewer pre-announcements than we’ve been used to, but a smorgasbord of rumours and leaks has been left on the table for us to pick over in the coming days, stoking rumours of a bumper Autumn Statement.

“The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt hasn’t ruled out any of the rumoured potential tax cuts and has left tantalising crumbs of clues that he will be focused on growth, and sensible about keeping inflation under control. In addition to tax measures, we are also expecting announcements to boost investment in equities, and reforms for both ISAs and pensions.

“It looks like there could be plenty of positive change in this statement, but at this stage the Treasury is always unlikely to be emphasising the bad news.”

Hunt is due to deliver the Autumn Statement on Wednesday.

In equity markets, industrial equipment company Ashtead tumbled as it lowered full-year revenue and profit forecasts after a quieter hurricane season and the writers’ and actors’ strike in the US.

It now expects both group and US rental revenue growth in the range of 11% to 13%, down from previous guidance of 13% to 16% for both, which will result in core profit being 2- 3% below current market expectations.

Catering giant Compass was also sharply lower as it hiked its final dividend by 27% as annual profits surged but revenues missed expectations.

On the upside, Diploma rallied as the industrial supplier expressed confidence in current-year forecasts after a solid set of annual results, with adjusted operating profits growing by a quarter.

Halma gained after announcing the acquisition of TeDan – a US supplier of surgical instruments – for up to $100m (£81m).

Standard Chartered was lifted by an upgrade to ‘buy’ from ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs, while Currys was boosted by an upgrade to ‘outperform’ from ‘sector perform’ at RBC Capital Markets.

Outside the FTSE 350, MusicMagpie surged after confirming that it is in early-stage talks with both BT Group and private equity investor Aurelius Group about a possible bid for the company.


Top 10 FTSE 100 Risers

Sponsored by Plus500
# Name Change Pct Change Cur Price
1 Spirax-sarco Engineering Plc +2.08% +186.00 9,126.00
2 Halma Plc +1.75% +36.00 2,089.00
3 Ocado Group Plc +1.68% +9.40 570.00
4 Melrose Industries Plc +1.23% +6.40 528.40
5 Burberry Group Plc +1.18% +18.50 1,583.00
6 Tui Ag +1.18% +5.90 505.50
7 Bae Systems Plc +1.04% +11.00 1,066.50
8 Rolls-royce Holdings Plc +0.98% +2.40 246.40
9 Admiral Group Plc +0.92% +24.00 2,623.00
10 Standard Chartered Plc +0.91% +6.00 666.00


Top 10 FTSE 100 Fallers

Sponsored by Plus500
# Name Change Pct Change Cur Price
1 Ashtead Group Plc -10.62% -557.00 4,687.00
2 Compass Group Plc -4.76% -99.50 1,992.50
3 Glencore Plc -1.87% -8.75 458.90
4 Astrazeneca Plc -1.85% -190.00 10,070.00
5 Ferguson Plc -1.12% -150.00 13,220.00
6 Johnson Matthey Plc -0.82% -12.50 1,511.50
7 St. James’s Place Plc -0.81% -5.60 681.80
8 Associated British Foods Plc -0.76% -18.00 2,362.00
9 Hargreaves Lansdown Plc -0.74% -5.40 720.20
10 Prudential Plc -0.66% -6.20 938.80


Monday newspaper round-up: Tax cuts, Heathrow, The Telegraph

Jeremy Hunt has played down the prospect of immediate income tax cuts, pledging not to do anything in this week’s autumn statement that will fuel inflation. Although some Conservative backbenchers are eager for measures that would be quickly felt by households, the chancellor on Sunday sought to emphasise the need to promote growth and indicated that tax cuts were “not going to happen overnight”. – Guardian

Passengers are facing delays at Heathrow airport after strong winds and staff shortages led to air traffic control restrictions. There were reports from angry passengers on social media on Sunday who said their flights had been delayed or cancelled. – Guardian

The Abu Dhabi-backed investment fund RedBird IMI is in line to take control of The Telegraph within weeks in a deal that is causing concern among Conservative MPs. RedBird IMI would serve as a conduit for a £1.2bn loan, mostly provided by the Emirati royal and Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which would allow the Barclay family to repay in full a debt to Lloyds Banking Group. – Telegraph

A £1.4 billion bid for Halfords from Redde Northgate has been dismissed because it “undervalues” the bike and car parts retailer, according to reports. That may not be the end of a potential deal, though. The Sunday Telegraph quoted a source as saying: “There were discussions about what an integration of the two businesses might look like, but there were questions over the valuations of both companies. – The Times

A record number of office refurbishments were begun in London this summer as landlords rushed to tart up tired-looking blocks that corporate renters increasingly are shunning. Between April and September, renovation work began on 34 buildings totalling 3.3 million sq ft of workspace, according to Deloitte’s latest office crane survey. It is the second time in a row in the professional services group’s survey that the number of new refurbishments getting under way has broken records. – The Times


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