Market News: 
FTSE 100  -6565.80   -230.60  -3.39% 
FTSE 250  -19330.92  -452.53  -2.29% 
FTSE AIM  -31.78     -33.07   -3.58% 

The FTSE 100 closed down 3.4% on Friday, as the economic impact of coronavirus took its toll throughout the week. According to Chief Market Analyst at IG Chris Beauchamp, London's major stock exchange went through its worst week since the beginning of 2010. Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC, the biggest riser of the session, closed up 3.2%, while International Consolidated Airlines Group SA lead the fallers, decreasing as much as 8.4%.

Top News: 

London Stock Exchange Group 2019 Pretax Profit Fell

London Stock Exchange Group PLC said Friday that pretax profit fell on higher costs, and that it remains on track to close its proposed acquisition of data provider Refinitiv in the second half of the year.


Rolls-Royce Pretax Loss Narrowed on Rising Revenue; Expects Cash Boost in 2020

Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC said Friday that its pretax loss narrowed and underlying operating profit rose in 2019, benefiting from higher revenue in the year.


IAG 2019 Net Profit Fell; Unable to Offer Guidance Due to Coronavirus

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA said Friday that net profit in 2019 fell 40%, and given the current coronavirus epidemic it wasn't able to give accurate profit guidance for 2020.


EasyJet to Cancel Flights, Cut Costs as Coronavirus Hits Demand

European budget carrier easyJet PLC said Friday that it will cancel some flights and launch cost-cutting measures as the coronavirus outbreak has hit demand in Italy and other European markets.


UK Consumer Confidence Continues to Rise on Hopes for a Stronger Economy

British consumer confidence rose for a third straight month in February, continuing an upward trend as Britons anticipate a stronger economy now that an impasse in the Brexit process has been resolved.

Companies News: 

AFC Energy Shares Fall Despite Narrowed Pretax Loss for FY 2019

Shares in AFC Energy PLC fell as much as 15% on Friday despite the company reporting a narrowed pretax loss for fiscal 2019.


Benchmark Holdings 1Q Loss Widened on Falling Revenue

Shares in Benchmark Holdings PLC fell on Friday after the company reported continued losses for the first quarter of fiscal 2020 due to market weakness in its advanced nutrition business.


ConvaTec Group 2019 Pretax Profit Hit by Write-Downs, Investments

ConvaTec Group PLC said Friday that pretax profit for 2019 plunged, hit by value write-downs on the company's assets, transformation investments and adverse foreign-exchange movements.


EN+ Group Aluminum Sales Up in 2019

EN+ Group International PJSC said Friday that aluminum sales rose in 2019 despite unchanged production from the previous year.


Eden Research Shares Fall on Discounted GBP10.1 Mln Raising

Shares of Eden Research PLC fell Friday after it said that it has raised GBP10.1 million via a discounted share placing and subscription, which it will use to fund product development and sales.


Foxtons Group 2019 Pretax Loss Narrowed on Cost-Cutting Measures

Foxtons Group PLC said Friday that it had narrowed its pretax loss in 2019 despite falling revenue, thanks to cost-cutting measures implemented to deal with the challenging market.


Man Group 2019 Adjusted Pretax Profit Rose Significantly

Man Group PLC said Friday that adjusted pretax profit for 2019 rose by more than 50%, driven by higher performance fees and seed investment gains in the year and a rebound in equity markets.


St. James House's Improving Business to Heal Funding Constraints

St. James House PLC said on Friday that both its payments and lottery divisions are growing, which will alleviate working capital constraints.


Shell Midstream Partners to Buy Stake in Mattox Pipeline, Eliminate Incentive Distribution Rights

Shell Midstream Partners LP has agreed to buy Royal Dutch Shell PLC's 79% interest in Mattox Pipeline Co., which owns the Mattox pipeline, and certain logistics assets at the Shell Norco manufacturing complex.

Other News: 

U.K. Regulator Set to Crack Down on Leasehold Housing Sector

The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority said Friday that it has found "troubling evidence" of potential misselling and unfair contract terms in the leasehold housing sector, and that it is ready to launch enforcement action.

Market Talk: 

Chemring to Report Upbeat Start to Year

1412 GMT - Defense group Chemring is tipped to report a good start to 2019-20 in a first-quarter update on March 4. Peel Hunt says the new management of the company, which makes flares and other military countermeasures, has made a lot of progress in improving the underlying quality of the business and the balance sheet is in good shape again. "We expect FY20 to have started well, and with the business in better shape, we sense management will start to focus more on business and product development," Peel's Henry Carver says, reiterating the brokerage's add recommendation.


Ashtead Shares Risk Exposure to Economic Turbulence

1319 GMT - Ashtead Group's shares look vulnerable to economic volatility, AJ Bell says ahead of the company's third-quarter results on March 3. Despite concerns over a global economic slowdown, AJ Bell points to a rally in the construction-equipment rental company's shares over the last year, as investors held out hopes that US interest-rate cuts and a trade deal between Washington and Beijing would provide fresh impetus in 2020. Commentary suggesting that the fall in purchasing managers' index data may be bottoming out has also buoyed the mood. However, "investors had better be right because if they're wrong and a slowdown or recession comes around the corner, that could leave Ashtead's shares pretty exposed," AJ Bell's Russ Mould says.


United Utilities Shares Look Generously Priced

1245 GMT - United Utilities Group shares are closing in on their peak valuation, says Credit Suisse, cutting its recommendation on the water-and-waste group to neutral from outperform. Shares are up 32% on a total return basis since September as political and regulatory risks are perceived to have passed, the Swiss brokerage says. "We see the shares price in generous assumptions on returns in the forthcoming price control, covering April 2020 to March 2025. We raise our price target to 920 pence per share," analyst Mark Freshney says. Shares fall 3.3% to 945 pence.


Rightmove's Annual Results Don't Justify Share Price

1216 GMT - Rightmove's full-year financials are in line with expectations, but there are some niggles, says Barclays. The brokerage believes the shares are too expensive and that the company will struggle to achieve more than 4-5% organic growth in 2020. The market is giving a major benefit of the doubt that growth will accelerate in outer years. "Overall we don't think these results are strong--and don't merit the run the shares have had," Barclays analysts say. "We see much more attractive opportunities in EU internet." Barclays has an under-weight/positive recommendation and 500 pence price target on the shares, which fall 4.2% to 608 pence.


WPP Likely to Deliver North America Sales Improvement in 2020

1210 GMT - WPP is likely to deliver an improvement in organic net sales in North America this year, following years of declines, Morningstar says. The London-based advertising giant expects flat growth in 2020 as one more quarter remains for its big account losses to cycle through, Morningstar says. Weakness in U.S. consumer-packaged goods spending continued in the fourth quarter of 2019, but there are signs this is subsiding and demand for WPP's creativity services in other industries did strengthen, Morningstar says.


Rightmove Customer Decline to Continue in Short-Term

1142 GMT - Rightmove shares fall 4.1% to 609 pence after the property-website group said it expected customer numbers to continue to drop in the first half. Rightmove said increased activity following December's U.K. general election may take some months to feed through to the cash flow of its smallest customers and it therefore expects a continuation of the second-half 2019 trend of declining agency branch numbers in the short term. "Overall we make no changes to forecasts, as guidance overall is consistent with expectations," Peel Hunt analysts say. "We maintain our reduce recommendation and 570 pence target price."


IAG's Uncertain 2020 Outlook Worries Investors

1140 GMT - IAG's outlook for 2020 is uncertain as the coronavirus spreads and investors worry, says Bernstein. The U.S. brokerage says it continues to like IAG's equity story in the long term, and that it is confident that a downturn would reveal the strength of its model. However, for investors to take a position in the shares now they need to be confident in the overall global macro outlook, and the future path of the coronavirus outbreak, both of which are out of the company's control. Bernstein has an outperform rating on the stock and a 700 pence target price. Shares are down 3% at 499.50 pence.


Contact: London NewsPlus, Dow Jones Newswires; +44-20-7842-9319


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 28, 2020 12:20 ET (17:20 GMT)

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