News Column

UK MORNING BRIEFING: Shares Gain At Open Ahead Of US Jobs Figures

June 6, 2014

Tom Waite



LONDON (Alliance News) - UK shares have opened higher Friday following a strong lead from Wall Street and ahead of US jobs figures later in the day.



Four brokers have slashed their price targets for AIM darling ASOS, following its fall from grace on Thursday, but remain positive. UBS has raised the stock to Buy from Neutral, joining Citigroup and Deutsche Bank with that rating, while JP Morgan says Overweight.



Here is what you need to know at the UK market open:

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MARKETS

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FTSE 100: up 0.3% at 6,833.34

FTSE 250: up 0.3% at 16,035.93

AIM ALL-SHARE: up 0.2% at 802.02

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Hang Seng: down 0.2% at 23,061.38

Nikkei 225: closed down 0.01% at 15,077.24

DJIA: closed up 0.6% at 16,836.11

S&P 500: closed up 0.7% at 1,940.46

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GBP-USD: down at USD1.6808

EUR-USD: down at USD1.3645



GOLD: up at USD1,255.08 per ounce

OIL (Brent): down at USD108.77 a barrel



(changes since end of previous GMT day)

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ECONOMICS AND GENERAL

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Friday's Key Economic Events still to come

(all times British Summer Time)



09:30 UK Consumer Inflation Expectations

09:30 UK Trade Balance

13:30 US Nonfarm Payrolls and Unemployment Rate

13:30 Canada Unemployment Rate

20:00 US Consumer Credit Change

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Britain's eurosceptic UK Independence Party made strong gains in a by-election Thursday, jumping from fifth to second place and cutting the lead of the ruling Conservative party by half. Party leader Nigel Farage said the result in the central town of Newark was their "strongest ever by-election performance," Britain'sPress Association reported. In the Newark by-election UKIP came 7,403 votes behind the incumbent Conservatives, winning 10,028 votes, up from 1,954 in 2010.

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European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi left the door open Thursday to further monetary stimulus measures after the ECB cut its key interest rates as part of a far-reaching package aimed at hauling the eurozone out of a low inflation spiral. In addition to cutting interest rates to historic lows, Draghi unveiled a slew of steps aimed at boosting liquidity in the 18-member eurozone so as to break credit bottlenecks in the currency bloc and spur growth in the region's fragile economy. "We think this is a significant package," Draghi told a press conference. "Are we finished? No."

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Germany's industrial production recovered in April after declining in March, Destatis reported. Industrial production grew 0.2% in April from March, when it was down by revised 0.6%. However, the rate was slower than the 0.4% increase forecast by economists. Excluding energy and construction, production in industry edged up 0.1% in April.

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Although China's economic growth will moderate over the medium term because of gradual rebalancing, it will meet the 7.5% growth target this year, the World Bank said in its China Economic Update. From 7.7% growth in 2013, China's growth is set to ease to 7.6% this year and to 7.5% in 2015, the Washington-based development bank said.

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Ukraine said Thursday that it had closed two border crossings with Russia, after days of heavy fighting with pro-Russian insurgents that led to border guards withdrawing from their positions. The decision to abandon the border stations raised fears that the conflict could escalate further, with fighters now finding it even easier to cross the border from Russia to join the insurgency.

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BROKER RATING CHANGES

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JEFFERIES RAISES WORKSPACE GROUP TO 'BUY' ('HOLD') - TARGET 706 (588) PENCE

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BERENBERG STARTS THOMAS COOK WITH 'BUY' - PRICE TARGET200 PENCE

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UBS RAISES ASOS TO 'BUY' ('NEUTRAL') - TARGET 4000 (6200) PENCE

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CITIGROUP CUTS ASOS PRICE TARGET TO 3700 (7000) PENCE - 'BUY'

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JPMORGAN CUTS ASOS PRICE TARGET TO 4250 (6600) PENCE - 'OVERWEIGHT'

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DEUTSCHE BANK CUTS ASOS PRICE TARGET TO 3600 (5800) PENCE - 'BUY'

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COMPANIES - FTSE 100

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Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC was hit by investor disquiet over its turnaround plan at the company's annual general meeting, with significant protest votes against the re-election of Chief Executive Dalton Philips and the company's remuneration policy for management bonuses. While all the AGM resolutions were passed, more than 15.4% of shareholders voted against re-electing Philips as CEO, Morrisons said, and over 26.5% voted against approving the company's remuneration policy, which details the amounts of and conditions for management bonuses. Also at the AGM Thursday, Chairman Ian Gibson said he will step down from the role at next year's AGM.

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Meanwhile, the founding family of Morrisons criticised the current directors' turnaround strategy at the meeting, The Times reports. The board of the company were barraged with criticism from investors, The Times said, as members of the founding family questioned the competence of its managers after its poor performance during the year. Ken Morrison, who owns a 9.5% interest in the company, attacked the board for ignoring his warnings. "Can the present management deliver this? I fear not," Sir Ken said, according to the report. "A first-class business has been ruined by a lack of leadership from the top."

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Associated British Foods PLC is to buy the Dorset Cereals brand from Wellness Foods for an undisclosed price thought to be slightly more than GBP50 million, the Financial Times reported late Thursday without saying where it got it the information. The British food conglomerate, which also owns the Primark clothing retail chain, will keep Dorset Cereal's factory in Poundbury, the report said.

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TSB has said its 8,600 staff will each receive GBP100 of shares and become "partners" when the bank floats on the stock market later this month, the Guardian reports Thursday. According to the newspaper, TSB's new policy will give Chief Executive Paul Pester an annual package worth up to GBP1.68 million. The policy is said to model that of the John Lewis partnership, with the GBP100 share award applying to all staff, including the CEO and Chief Financial Officer Darren Pope.

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COMPANIES - FTSE 250

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Hansteen Holdings PLC said it has sold a property portfolio from the Ashtenne Industrial Fund, in which it has a 36.7% stake, for GBP62 million. It said it was the first portfolio from the GBP490 million fund to be sold since Hansteen became its asset manager last August. The sale, to Rockspring Hanover Property Unit Trust, reflects a net initial yield of 7.5%, according to the UK and Continental European property investment company.

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Central Rand Gold Ltd said Finance Director Patrick Malaza will leave the company at the end of July and won't be replaced to save on costs. Malaza's departure comes just a week after the gold exploration and production company revealed that its 2013 losses were wider than it had previously reported.

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Synergy Health PLC said it has signed a multi-year outsourcing contract with Minnesota-based Sterilmed Inc.Sterilmed reprocesses and re-manufactures single-use medical devices. Under the contract, Synergy will take over Sterilmed's manufacturing operations and will be responsible for all the receiving, production and distribution functions, with all current Sterilmed employees transferring to Synergy. The transfer of operations and employees will occur July 27.

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Ultra Electronics Holdings PLC said its Ocean Systems business has won a three-year contract with the US Navy worth more than USD19 million over three years. Under the contract, the business will produce naval acoustic electromechanical beacons, which are designed to counter torpedo threats. The contract contains an initial year and options for 2015 and 2016.

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COMPANIES - ALL-SHARE AND AIM

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London Pride brewerFuller, Smith & Turner PLC reported higher profits and revenues for its last financial year, on the back of strong growth in food and accommodation sales, as its managed pubs and hotels business continued to drive profits in the business. Chief Executive Simon Emeny says the company has now laid down its foundations for long-term growth. "We know our strength is in operating at the premium end of the market and we have a clear vision of where we are going and how we will get there," Emeny said in a statement commenting on the results. The company proposed a final dividend of 9.30 pence for the year, up 11% from 8.35 pence per share for shareholders a year earlier.

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RedhallGroup PLC Chief Executive Richard Shuttleworth resigned, after the company lowered its expectations for its current financial year for a second time in two months, hit by further delays in the timing of major contracts and as it took a more cautious line on the timing and impact of new business prospects. The engineering support services company had warned on May 2 that it was experiencing delays converting major opportunities into contract awards, and had said at that time that it expected its performance to be below market expectations, although not materially so. Finance Director Chris Lewis-Jones stepped down at that time.

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Rare Earth Minerals PLC said it has further increased its stake in Bacanora Minerals Ltd, its joint venture partner in the Sonora lithium project in Mexico, to 11.27%, from 10.18% previously, just two days after revealing a resource upgrade for the project. In a statement, Rare Earth said it spent GBP328,200 making further on-market purchases of Bacanora shares.

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Leaf Clean Energy Co said it has decided to write down the value of its investment in MaxWest Environmental Systems Inc to zero, after its representatives on MaxWest's board warned that the renewable energy technology firm is experiencing severe financial difficulties. In a statement, Leaf Clean Energy said Maxwest recently requested further funding from Leaf and other investors, but neither Leaf nor any other investor made an additional investment.

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Avon Rubber PLC said it has received a USD33.0 million order from the US Department of Defense for 135,000 M50 mask systems, giving the company order coverage in line with expectations for the remainder of its financial year and "excellent" visibility of M50 sales well into the next.

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Friday's Scheduled AGMs/EGMs



Volga Gas

Forbidden Technologies

Prezzo

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Source: Alliance News


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