FTSE 100 has closed up 0.3%, or 18 points, to 7,123
FTSE 250 has closed up 0.3%, or 58 points, to 23,347
David Madden, a market analyst at Equity Capital, sums up the day:
Stock markets in Europe got off to a good start today as traders were handed the bullish baton by their counterparts in Asia. The indices in the far east gained ground thanks to the surprisingly robust services data from China, it was a pleasant change from the turbulence witnessed in Chinese markets recently due to fears about tighter regulation.
The services PMI reports from the UK and the eurozone were well received too, so that added to the view that Europe’s recovery is still intact.
In recent months, the FTSE 100 has underperformed but lately it has been driving higher, today it hit its highest mark in over three weeks.
Four million Provident Financial customers can now claim compensation
More than four million customers of doorstep lender Provident Financial can start claiming compensation after the High Court gave the green light to the group's repayment plan today.
Affected Provident customers who were sold unaffordable loans by the sub-prime lender will need to register via an online portal in order to kick off their compensation claims.
Applications for compensation must be made within a six-month period, which officially starts tomorrow, even though the online registration portal is now open.
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Robinhood shares jump 35%
Robinhood shares jumped as much as 65 per cent at the open in New York today after a wave of individual investors joined star fund manager Cathie Wood to pile on the trading platform.
Shares hit a record $85 earlier on, but were now up by a smaller 35 per cent to $63.50.
The rise follows its underwhelming market debut last week.
The app used by amateur investors to play the stock market had priced shares at $38 each, but they closed down 8.4 per cent to $34.82 on its first day of trading.
Wall Street in the red
US stocks have started the day in the red amid concerns around slowing economic growth and fresh Covid fears.
Less than half an hour after the open in New York, here's where the main indexes are at:
The Dow Jones is down 0.5% to 34,940.
The S&P 500 is down 0.3% to 4,410.
The Nasdaq is more or less flat at 14,767.
Video games services firm Keywords Studios expects profit to jump 80%
Video games services provider Keywords Studios expects profits to jump 80 per cent after a strong first-half as the video games market remains 'buoyant'.
Video games companies have struggled to develop new products remotely during the pandemic, but this played into the hands of Keywords Studios.
The company – one of AIM's biggest with a market capitalisation of just over £2billion – is an outsourcer that helps developers test out their games, and provides production services such as artwork.
It said it expects pre-tax profit to be around €40million for the first six months of the year, with revenues set to rise 37 per cent to €238million.
But despite the upbeat update, shares have fallen 4.2 per cent to £28.06.
Rihanna is officially a billionaire, according to Forbes
Rihanna is now officially a billionaire and the richest female musician in the world, thanks to the huge success of her Fenty Beauty line.
The Umbrella hitmaker, 33, is now worth an estimated $1.7billion (£1.2billion), Forbes reports, making her the second wealthiest female entertainer on the planet, behind Oprah Winfrey with $2.7billion (£1.9billion).
It is claimed the bulk of the popstar's fortune ($1.4billion/£1billion) comes not from music, but from her 50 percent stake in her acclaimed cosmetics line Fenty Beauty - a joint venture with French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH - and worth $2.8billion (£2billion) in total.
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Camelot gets six-month extension to run National Lottery
The battle to run the National Lottery for the next decade has been delayed until 2024, the Gambling Commission has announced today.
Camelot, which has been running the National Lottery since its creation in 1994, has been given a six month extension, with its licence now expiring in February 2024.
The Gambling Commission said the move followed 'representations from applicants and experience from Phase One'.
We now intend to announce the preferred applicant in February 2022. All dates are indicative and may evolve in line with market feedback and the continued national, and international, impact of COVID-19, all of which we are keeping under constant review.
Legal & General shareholders on track for dividend payout boost
Insurance giant Legal & General saw its profits top the £1billion mark in the first six months of this year, its latest figures show.
The group has also revealed it will hike dividend payouts to shareholders, having traditionally been known as one of the biggest dividend payers on the stock market.
Assets across the firm's investment management arm, which is the biggest fund management house in the country, increased by 7 per cent to £1.33trillion. Net inflows at the division rose to £27.4billion, up from £6.2billion a year ago.
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Sony posts record quarterly profits
Sony has raised its earnings outlook after a record first-quarter operating profit helped by pandemic stay-at-home demand for PlayStation 5 consoles, TVs, music and movies, according to Reuters.
Operating profit for the quarter ended 30 June rose to $2.57billion from 221.7billion, beating analyst forecasts.
It raised its profit forecast for the year through March 2022 to 980 billion yen from 930 billion, bringing it closer to the 1 billion yen average estimate from 25 analysts.
Sony had expected growing pandemic demand for its devices and content to wane as coronavirus lockdowns eased, but with fresh waves of Covid-19 infections sweeping the world, restriction are still common.
A shortage of semiconductors, however, which is also affecting the likes of Apple, means it cannot produce enough PlayStation games consoles to meet demand.
Cost of bounce back loans could be lower than first thought, banks suggest
The Government could be liable for a lot less money than first thought from one of its emergency loan schemes that was launched during the pandemic, according to early data from banks.
Only around 5 per cent to 10 per cent of businesses that used the bounce back loan scheme last year have missed repayments, which became due from May this year, according to the Financial Times.
Banking sources confirmed said that these figures broadly matched what they had seen in recent months.
Last week NatWest, which lent £9.1billion under the scheme, said around 92 percent of customers who took a bounce back loan were paying on or ahead of schedule.
Around 5 per cent have paid back in full already.
Earlier this year the British Business Bank, which administered the £47billion scheme, said that around one in five businesses that had taken a bounce back loan had not spent any of it.
The Hut Group snaps up Cult Beauty for £275m
The Hut Group is set to snap up online-only beauty retailer Cult Beauty for £275million.
The online health and beauty retail group THG expects the acquisition to bolster its sales for the next full year by £140million, with an earnings increase of around £10million.
London-listed THG, which was valued at more than £5billion in a mammoth stock market float last year, also told investors it was on track to pass previous sales growth targets for the current financial year.
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Ryanair sees passengers' number double
Ryanair carried double the number of passengers in July, the airline said today.
It said it flew 9.3million passengers in July, compared to 5.3million in June and 4.4million in July last year.
The Irish carrier said it operated over 61,000 flights last month, which were 80 per cent full.
Yesterday, budget airline Wizz Air said it carried 2.95million passengers in July, compared to 1.8million in July last year.
The Hungarian company said it had also continued to grow its network, officially opening its Rome Fiumicino base in Italy.
Pressure on the Bank of England over inflation mounts as service sector growth slows
The prospect of a rise in interest rates by the Bank of England sooner than anticipated increased today after UK service sector companies saw the highest level of both cost and price inflation in a quarter of a century in July.
Businesses in the service sector, which include restaurants, hairdressers as well as banks and insurers, were forking out more for wages, transport and food, with costs rising at the fastest pace in 25 years, according to a new survey.
And companies are beginning to pass on these costs to customers, with selling prices rocketing to the highest level not seen since 1996, when the IHS Markit/CIPS Services PMI survey started.
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FTSE 100 up 0.4% to 7,134, with Taylor Wimpey topping the risers' list...
Taylor Wimpey is the top riser on the FTSE 100 today, with shares up 3.5 per cent, after posting record first-half results and upping its profit guidance for the year.
Legal & General follows, with shares up 2.6 per cent, also after posting bumper results.
Betting groups Entain and Flutter are also higher, with shares up by around 2 per cent.
Rolls-Royce is higher after announcing the sale of its Norwegian division to British group Langley Holdings.
Spain 'will NOT go on the red list' in new boost for British sunseekers
Holidays to Spain are back on for thousands of British sunseekers, with ministers set to axe the controversial 'amber-plus' list, which would have forced even double-jabbed travellers to quarantine on return.
Falling cases of the Beta variant, along with concerns over quarantine hotel room capacity, has nudged officials into avoiding placing Spain on the red list.
An announcement confirming its amber status is expected today, meaning fully-vaccinated holidaymakers won't have to isolate for 10 days when they come back home.
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Taylor Wimpey raises outlook as it builds record number of homes
Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has raised its full-year profit outlook after a record first half and said customers were showing interest in buying homes that would be ready well after the end of the stamp duty holiday.
The FTSE 100 company completed a record 7,303 homes in the first six months of the year, helped by the housing boom stoked by Government support, low interest rates and evolving demand due to the pandemic.
The helpful combination of tailwinds helped it swing back to pre-tax profit of £287.5million, against losses of £39.8million a year ago, with the company now expecting full-year profit to come in above expectations at £820million.
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'The best of the post-pandemic recovery could be behind us'
Duncan Brock, group director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, said shortage of stuff and supplies are holding back growth. Plus, rising prices are likely to impact demand.
Unfilled vacancies due to skills shortages and low stocks at suppliers meant further gains were obstructed and backlogs of work increased. Adding to capacity pressures, the relentless rise in input cost inflation to its highest for a quarter of a century meant businesses were paying more for wages, transport and food, and consumers were beginning to bear the brunt with onward price inflation the most elevated since the survey began in 1996.
We suspect the best of the post-pandemic recovery could be behind us, especially if higher leisure and hospitality costs diminish appetite for consumer spending.
Consumer Price Inflation reached 2.4% in June, surpassing the 2% target set by the Bank of England, and it is likely to go higher in the coming months as salary increases add pressure on prices through the summer.
'We've already seen the peak phase of pent up consumer spending'
Tim Moore, economics Director at IHS Markit, which compiles the PMI survey, explains:
July data illustrates that recovery speed across the UK economy has slowed in comparison to the second quarter of 2021.
More businesses are experiencing growth constraints from supply shortages of labour and materials, while on the demand side we've already seen the peak phase of pent up consumer spending.
The full easing of pandemic restrictions appears to have helped limit the overall loss of momentum towards the end of July. At 59.6, the PMI reading for services output was much stronger than our earlier 'flash' figure of 57.8 in July, largely due to the final index covering an extra five working days since 'freedom day'.
Any re-acceleration of growth in August looks unlikely, however, as new orders increased at a much-reduced pace at the start of the third quarter. Moreover, business expectations softened again during July, with UK firms the least optimistic about the growth outlook since January. Survey respondents cited worries about recruiting staff to meet business expansion plans and some suggested that escalating costs would hinder the recovery
Pace of growth in the UK service sector slowed in July
UK service providers recorded an increase in business activity for the fifth month running during July, but the rate of growth was the weakest since March, the latest IHS Markit PMI survey results have revealed.
Staff shortages and supply issues were a severe constraint on business capacity, which led to another strong rise in backlogs of work.
At 59.6 in July, the headline PMI reading posted above the crucial 50 no-change mark and was above the earlier 'flash' reading (57.8), but dropped from 62.4 in June.
The index was the lowest since March and therefore signalled the slowest rate of expansion since the end of the winter lockdown
BMW warns of global chip shortage
BMW has become the latest car maker to warn of production problems due to the global chip shortage.
It reported strong results, with earnings surging to £4.2 billion in the second quarter of the year.
But chief financial officer Nicolas Peter said: 'The longer the supply bottlenecks last, the more tense the situation is likely to become.
'We expect production restrictions to continue in the second half of the year and hence a corresponding impact on sales volumes.'
Rolls-Royce to sell its Norwegian arm to to British group Langley Holdings
Rolls-Royce has agreed a €63million (£54million) deal to sell its Norwegian maritime engine-making arm Bergen to British group Langley Holdings.
It comes after Norway blocked the sale to a Russian group in March on national security grounds.
The takeover ‘would have been of significant military strategic interest to Russia, and would have boosted Russian military capabilities’, the government in Oslo said at the time.
Rolls-Royce said the Langley deal is another step towards its target to make at least £2billion from asset sales as boss Warren East looks to rebuild the group's balance sheet.
Rolls shares are up 1.5 per cent to 104.75p this morning.
Billionaire businessman Mike Ashley poised to 'step down'
Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley is set to step down from leading his retail empire and hand the reins to his prospective son-in-law, according to a report.
The billionaire is expected to unveil plans to step back from his role as chief executive of Frasers Group to become deputy chairman on Thursday, The Telegraph has reported.
It said he will be replaced in the top job by 31-year-old Michael Murray, who is engaged to Mr Ashley’s daughter Anna.
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The Hut Group buys Cult Beauty for £275m
The Hut Group has clinched a £275million deal to buy online-only beauty retailer Cult Beauty as it keeps growing its portfolio.
The ecommerce giant - which was valued at more than £5billion in a mammoth stock market float last year - said the acquisition will boost THG's sales for the next full year by £140million, with an earnings lift of around £10million.
It also told investors it is now on track to surpass previous sales growth targets for the current financial year.
THG shares are up 3 per cent to 597p.
Matthew Moulding, executive chairman and chief executive officer of The Hut Group, said:
Cult Beauty is frequently the partner of choice for emerging indie brands due to its personalised, content-led approach and enthusiastic consumer base who are continually seeking new, innovative solutions to complement their beauty routines.
Cult Beauty's first-to-market reputation makes the brand an exciting fit for our THG Beauty division.
We anticipate fully migrating Cult Beauty onto the THG Ingenuity platform by the end of the year (within the first six months of acquisition), giving the brand access to the global digital features to underpin significant future growth.
Legal & General shares up 2% as profits treble and it raises dividend
Legal & General has raised its interim dividend after first-half profit more than trebled compared to last year thanks to strong performances from its retirement and investment management business.
Pre-tax profit jumped to £1.4billion in the six months to the end of June, from £342million in the same period last year.
The company also said it would pay shareholders an interim dividend of 5.18p, up 5 per cent on last year.
Looking ahead, the company said it expects to deliver 'double digit growth in operating profit at the full year.'
Shares are up 1.9 per cent to 268.80p.
Taylor Wimpey shares shoot up 4%
Shares in FTSE 100 Taylor Wimpey have jumped more than 4 per cent to 171.70p after it swung to a first-half profit and upgraded its annual guidance, as construction bounces back following an easing of lockdowns.
Anthony Codling of property platform Twindig commented:
National housebuilder Taylor Wimpey delivered a strong set of half-year results today and raised profit expectations for the full year, demonstrating that there will be life in the housing market after the end of the Stamp Duty holiday.
The high level of homebuyer demand is driven by low interest rates, good mortgage availability and a shortage of stock in the second-hand market.
Looking further ahead, canny land buying during lockdown will allow Taylor Wimpey to accelerate its growth plans in the medium term to deliver more of the homes the country desperately needs.