Market Report: Sunshine brings a ray of hope to City
There has certainly been no shortage of companies willing to blame the recent miserable weather for disappointing updates. However, with summer looking as if it may finally be here, City types were yesterday working out which stocks could get a boost from a sustained period of sunshine.
While scribblers from Shore Capital conceded it will take more than a handful of sunny days in a row to make much of a difference, they were highlighting a "number of seasonal benefits" if the weather does last.
For one, the clothing retailers will be helped by "the ability to walk down the high street without being dressed like a fisherman about to take to the high seas", they said, while they also claimed the supermarkets will be "seeking to harvest any uptick in what are generally higher margin seasonal lines".
In addition, the analysts suggested the sun plus Bradley Wiggins' victory in the Tour de France may well combine to provide a boost for the boozers, with "the warm weather no doubt drawing the punters to discuss their new found interest in all matters cycling into those public houses with beer gardens and the like."
Investors were clearly not ready to get in a summer mood quite yet, with Tesco and Sainsbury's dipping 2.95p to 315.55p and 2p to 312.5p. Meanwhile, among the clothing chains Marks & Spencer retreated 3.1p to 319p as Next was pegged back 11p to 3,185p.
Even the pub groups weren't seeing much cheer – although Marston's, up 0.8p to 108p, and JD Wetherspoon, up 6.7p to 451.7p, were ahead, Fuller, Smith & Turner closed 2.75p lower at 706p and Greene King slipped back 2p to 590p. Elsewhere, pork supplier Cranswick, which will be hoping for a sunny weekend so barbecue fans snap up its sausages, finished 10p weaker at 820p.
It was another tough day for the FTSE 100, which was knocked back 34.64 points to 5,499.23, having already lost nearly 120 points on Monday. For much of the session the benchmark index held steady, but poor US economic data and continuing concerns about the eurozone put paid to that by the bell.
Spain's woes were not helping International Airlines Group, which owns Spanish carrier Iberia. The company was smacked back 3.2p to 145.4p, with Citigroup's Andrew Light warning at the same time he was expecting second-quarter earnings across the airline sector to have fallen sharply.
Croda International was sticking out, with the speciality chemicals maker's interim results – and the decision to increase its dividend – helping climb 135p to 2,364p.
Also rising was G4S, which pushed up 2.9p to 244.5p despite the news that more soldiers are being drafted in to help with the Olympics. The security services giant has still dropped nearly 16 per cent in less than a fortnight, a fall that has prompted some vague speculation that it could find itself vulnerable to an approach.
There was good news for Rank after MPs called for the tax on bingo to be reduced. A report from the House of Commons' Culture, Media and Sport select committee said the game should be taxed at the level as other forms of gambling, which, according Oriel Securities' Jeffrey Harwood, could cut the Mecca bingo-owner's tax bill by roughly £7m.
The report also suggested casinos and bookies should be allowed to contain more fruit machines and said George Osborne may want to rethink new duty proposals on machine games. That would be welcomed by Ladbrokes and William Hill, which advanced 2.5p to 158p and 2.7p to 292p respectively, although Rank finished unmoved at 116p despite early gains,.
Man Group was flying in early trading as news of further cost-cutting measures prompted the hedge fund giant to jump up more than 10 per cent. However – with Numis Securities' David McCann reacting to its interim results by saying he still regarded "the stock as uninvestable" – the company was just 2.85p better off at 72p by the close of play.
Instead, the top FTSE 250 riser was Provident Financial, which shot up 124p to 1,297p after announcing a big increase in the number of credit cards it handed out to those unable to get one from the major banks.
On AIM, Cupid's decision to snare France's AGL for €3.7m (£2.9m) failed to get a thumbs up as the dating website operator closed 2.38p worse off at 201.62p.
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