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BUSINESS LIVE: FTSE 100 touches fresh record high; Shop price inflation slows; Revolution Bars shares suspended


The FTSE 100 closed down 17.53 points at 7935.09, after hitting 8,015.63 earlier in the session. That was a touch above its closing record high of 8,014.31 set in February last year. However, it was still below its intraday record high of 8,047.06.  

Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are Revolution Bars Group, National World and Frontier Developments. Read the Tuesday 2 April Business Live blog below.

> If you are using our app or a third-party site click here to read Business Live 

FTSE 100 closes down 17.53 points at 7935.09

The Footsie closes soon

Just before close, the FTSE 100 was 0.21% down at 7,935.75.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 was 0.85% lower at 19,716.12.

Tesla quarterly deliveries fall for the first time in nearly four years

(Reuters) – Tesla posted a fall in quarterly deliveries for the first time in nearly four years and missed Wall Street estimates, a performance some described as “ugly” as price cuts failed to stir up demand in a highly competitive market.

The Elon Musk-led company’s shares fell 5.3% in early trading and were on track to lose about $30billion in market value.

Despite the fall, which adds to a nearly 30% slide in value so far this year, Tesla’s market capitalization was still well above the combined valuation of Toyota Motor, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.

Tesla handed over about 386,810 vehicles in the three months to March 31, down 20.2% from the prior quarter. It produced 433,371 vehicles during the period.

Wall Street on average had expected Tesla to deliver 454,200 vehicles, according to 18 analysts polled by Visible Alpha.

“The discrepancy between deliveries and production implies ~46k in incremental inventory, which confirms that beyond the known production bottleneck, there may also be a serious demand issue,” Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner wrote in a note.

The electric automaker’s deliveries fell 8.5% from a year ago. The last time it posted a sales fall was in the second quarter of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the automaker to shut down production.

Mortgage approvals for house purchases hit 17-month high

Mortgage approvals for house purchases hit a 17-month high in February, in what could be a sign that the property market is bouncing back.

A dip in mortgage rates since the summer has seen mortgage approvals rise for five consecutive months, according to Bank of England figures.

Louis Vuitton boss Bernard Arnault remains richest man in the world

French businessman and investor Bernard Arnault retained his position as the world’s richest man on Forbes’ billionaires list this year, increasing his lead on social media and ecommerce behemoths Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg to amass a staggering £233billion fortune.

Overseeing the LVMH luxury fashion empire of 75 brands and cosmetics labels, including Louis Vuitton, Sephora and Tiffany & Co, the 75-year-old from Roubaix, France was worth an estimated $22billion more than he was 12 months ago, according to Forbes’ calculations.

Why were Easter eggs so much more expensive this year?

Britons who broke the Lent fast with their favourite chocolate Easter Egg might have experienced a rude awakening when visiting the supermarket.

Cocoa, chocolate’s key ingredient, has seen its value skyrocket to more than $10,000 a tonne in 2024, from less than a quarter of that value at the beginning of last year.

Heathrow executive Emma Gilthorpe to take the helm at Royal Mail

(PA) – Royal Mail has ended its hunt for a new top boss after appointing Heathrow Airport senior executive Emma Gilthorpe to the helm at a crucial time for the postal service.

Owner International Distributions Services (IDS) said Ms Gilthorpe will join the group on May 1, before becoming Royal Mail chief executive in the summer following a handover with interim boss Martin Seidenberg.

Ms Gilthorpe is currently chief operating officer at Heathrow Airport, where she has worked since 2009.

She replaces Mr Seidenberg, who took on the job alongside his existing role as chief executive of the wider IDS group last October when embattled former Royal Mail boss Simon Thompson quit just weeks after agreeing a deal to end a bitter dispute with the firm’s main union.

Ms Gilthorpe’s appointment comes at a critical juncture for Royal Mail, with Ofcom considering options that could see Royal Mail cut its six-days-a-week service or extend delivery times.

The industry regulator revealed in a long-awaited report in January that an overhaul of the universal postal service could see Royal Mail’s letter delivery service slashed from six days to five, or even three, a week.

The other option being reviewed is to extend how long it takes letters to be delivered, meaning that it would take three or more days for most letters to arrive, but with a more expensive next-day delivery service available when required.

General Electric is no more as it as it splits into three companies

The US conglomerate, co-founded by Thomas Edison, is opening a new chapter in its history on Tuesday: its break-up into three independent entities which will then concentrate on their disparate core businesses.

Octopus Energy completes takeover of 1.3 million Shell customers

Octopus Energy has now fully taken over all 1.3million households from Shell Energy – and took just two months to do it.

The deal officially makes Octopus the second-largest overall energy firm in the country, behind British Gas – but the biggest supplier of electricity.

Why bank shares could be a good home for your Isa

Millions of us deposit our money into our banks’ cash Isa accounts — but might we end up with more if we invested it in the banks themselves instead?

Many are paying out dividends that are higher than the interest we would get on cash savings, with the potential for capital gains, too.

Superdry shares halve as founder abandons takeover attempt

HSBC completes sale of Canadian arm to Royal Bank of Canada

HSBC shares were handed a boost on Tuesday as it finalised the sale of its Canadian business to the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).

Europe’s largest bank, which is focusing efforts on expanding operations across Asia, expects to reap an estimated $4.9billion (£3.9billion) gain from the transaction in its first-quarter results.

It intends to hand shareholders a $0.21 per share special dividend, which it will pay alongside a proposed interim dividend in June if approved by investors.

FTSE 100 records fresh record high

The FTSE 100 rallied to near all-time highs this morning above 8,000 points, reflecting growing optimism over looming interest rate hikes.

Britain’s blue-chip index was up 0.8 per cent earlier today to 8,015.63, surpassing its previous record close of 8,014.31 set in February last year. However, it was still below its intraday record high of 8,047.06.

The FTSE 100 has since given back some of its gains and currently sits at 7,982.82, reflecting a jump of around 0.4 per cent for the day.

Gold price hits fresh record high at $2,266.59/oz

Spot gold has risen to a fresh record high of $2,266.59/oz, after adding more than 0.5 per cent so far today and 9.7 per cent since the start of the year.

Shop price inflation slows to just 1.3% in March

Shop prices rose at their slowest pace since late 2021 last month, lifting hopes that Britain’s recent struggle against rampant inflation could be coming to an end.

Consumers saw shop price inflation rise by 1.3 per cent in March, down from 2.5 per cent the previous month and marking the smallest annual increase since December 2021, according to fresh data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen.

The Bank of England expects Britain’s headline rate of inflation to dip below its 2 per cent target in the April-to-June period, helped in large part by further falls in energy costs.

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House prices fell in March, says Nationwide, as North-South divide emerges

House prices fell slightly in March as the spring property market got off to a drab start in the South but the North fared much better.

The latest Nationwide house price index showed a slight 0.2 per cent decline in the average property value last month – but the fall came from a statistical quirk, as a traditionally busier month ended up slow.

The monthly decline was down to seasonal adjustment – which aims to smooth out months that are typically more and less active – whereas the non-adjusted average house price actually rose slightly from £260,420 in February to £261,14 in March.

UK manufacturers show growth for first time in 20 months

British manufacturers reported their first overall growth in activity in 20 months in March, thanks to recovering demand in their home market, in further signs that last year’s shallow recession has already ended.

The S&P Global/CIPS UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 50.3, higher than a preliminary March reading of 49.9 and up from February’s 47.5.

Before this month, the last time the survey was above the 50 threshold for growth was in July 2022.

Other business surveys and official data have suggested the economy started 2024 on a stronger footing after it went into a recession in the second half of 2023.

The PMI will be studied by the Bank of England, which is watching for signs that underlying inflation pressures are abating sufficiently for it to cut interest rates.

Revolution Bars Group shares suspended after results delay

The embattled hospitality firm, which operates Peach Pubs and the Revolucion de Cuba brands, failed to publish its half-year results last week, thereby forcing the shares’ suspension under City rules.

Flutter makes a play for U.S. retail investors for its Wall Street listing next month

Market open: FTSE 100 up 0.5%; FTSE 250 adds 0.4%

London-listed stocks have kicked off the second quarter with strength, supported by a rise in energy and metal miners, while HSBC is up on the back of the sale of its Canadian unit.

Precious metal miners have climbed 2.7 per cent as the dollar and Treasury yields held firm after strong US data flagged doubts on the start of interest rate cut cycle.

Industrial metal miners follow with a 2.4 per cent uptick, as concerns of tighter raw material supplies and improved demand prospects pushed copper prices higher, while oil and gas stocks are up 2 per cent, tracking higher crude prices.

HSBC has gained 1.7 per cent on the prospects of recognising an estimated gain of $4.9billion in the first quarter of 2024, as it completed the sale of its Canadian unit to Royal Bank of Canada.

Where to invest if you’re looking to generate an income from your Isa

With just days to go until the end of the tax year, you might be looking for some last-minute inspiration for your Isa.

Income funds and dividend-paying stocks continue to be popular among investors this year as they hunt steady returns.

‘Stability is what the housing market needs’

Anthony Codling, managing director at RBC Capital Markets:

‘House prices nudged down in March by 0.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis, but with wage growth ahead of house price growth housing affordability is improving.

‘On an annual basis house prices were up 1.6%, but there is evidence of a North-South divide with house prices rising in the North and softening in the South.

‘However, overall, we view house prices as stable, and stability is what the housing market needs in our view.

‘Stable conditions will encourage more people to move home, and the level of housing transactions is on the up.’

‘Inflation is still being a pesky nuisance and just won’t die’

Ben Yearsley, director at Fairview Investing:

‘The Office for Budget Responsibility recently revised forecasts it produced for the Autumn statement.

‘Inflation is forecast to be 2.2% during 2024 – down from closer to 4% in the Autumn; indeed, Jeremy Hunt in his recent budget suggested it will start with a “1” in a matter of months with a potentially big impact on gilts and bond markets.

‘Inflation in 2025 is expected to be 1.5%. UK GDP growth has been revised up slightly to 0.8% this year, however GDP per capita is still falling and won’t rise again until 2025. The annual deficit has also been revised down as has the debt to GDP figure. The latest monthly figure shows CPI at 3.4% at the same time as disposable incomes rising.

‘Inflation is still being a pesky nuisance and just won’t die. Latest US figures released mid-March show inflation surprisingly creeping up to 3.2% from 3.1% the prior month. At the same time, the Personal Consumption Expenditure index which tracks items Americans are spending on fell in February to 2.8% from 2.9%.

‘Intriguingly figures from S&P Global show defaults picking up with 29 up to the end of February – the highest level at this stage of the year since 2009. Will the Fed and other central banks continue obsessing with inflation if the economy hits a severe downturn? It seems unlikely, but can they stomach a volte face? S&P Global suggest consumer sensitive companies are most at risk.

‘Truflation has US inflation at 2.02% and the UK at 3.02% both of which have ticked up from a month ago.’

Boost for shoppers as supermarket battle for customers prompting food prices to fall faster

Food prices fell last month in a boost for households as supermarkets ramped up offers to attract customers.

Figures published today showed the cost of groceries fell 0.3 per cent between February and March as retailers tempted shoppers with Mother’s Day and Easter deals.

Prices dropped faster than the 0.1 per cent decline recorded in the previous month amid a price war between the major grocers.

House prices dip unexpectedly

UK house prices fell by 0.2 per cent in March after a 0.7 per cent increase the month before, bucking economists’ expectations for a 0.3 per cent rise, figures from Nationwide show.

House prices were 1.6 per cent higher than a year earlier, a faster rise than February’s 1.2 per cent but short of the 2.4 per cent increase which economists had expected

Revolution Bars shares suspended

Revolution Bars Group shares have been temporarily suspended after the firm failed to publish its interim results last week.

The firm, which operates the Revolution, Revolución de Cuba and Peach Pubs brands, told investors last week it is ‘actively exploring all strategic options‘ to ‘improve…future prospects’ after a ‘period of external challenges’.

It said this could include ‘a sale of all or part of the group’, a restructuring plan ‘for certain parts’ of the business or a fundraise, with Revolution Bars in talks with chair of the Gail’s bakery chain and investor Luke Johnson.

Pub chiefs lead calls for major tax shake-up as they struggle with higher rates and increased wages

Industry chiefs want Labour and the Tories to make manifesto pledges to overhaul the business rates they pay on commercial property such as shops and bars.led calls yesterday for politicians to promise reforms after a double whammy of higher property taxes and increased wages hit the sector.

They want Labour and the Tories to make manifesto pledges to overhaul the business rates they pay on commercial property such as shops and bars.

Industry chiefs said they will be forced to put prices up for customers after rates increased 6.7 per cent yesterday – costing firms in England an extra £1.7billion.

Shop price inflation slows

UK shop prices grew at the slowest pace in more than two years last month, adding to signs inflation is now fading fast, fresh data from the British Retail Consortium shows.

Shop price inflation slowed to 1.3 per cent in March from 2.5 per cent in February, the smallest annual increase since December 2021.

Food prices rose by 3.7 per cent, down from 5 per cent, while non-food prices rose by just 0.2 per cent, slowing from a 1.3 per cent increase in February.

The Bank of England expects Britain’s headline rate of inflation to dip below 2 per cent in the April-to-June period, helped in large part by further falls in energy costs.





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