What to watch: Taylor Wimpey gains, AB Foods leads losers, and Saudi Aramco’s profit plunge

Kumutha Ramanathan
·3-min read
A builder working for Taylor Wimpey builds a roof on an estate in Aylesbury, Britain, February 7, 2017.  REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
A builder working for Taylor Wimpey builds a roof on an estate in Aylesbury, Britain. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

Taylor Wimpey gains despite lockdown fears

European stocks opened higher on Tuesday with Taylor Wimpey (TW.L) being among the leaders on the FTSE, up as much as 5.8% in early trading.

It, alongside Barratt Developments (BDEV.L), are “one of the few sectors that have avoided this month’s shutdowns,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Crest Nicholson (CRST.L) shares have also been up more than 20% on Tuesday, as it reported that their full year numbers would be ahead of expectations of £37.9m ($48.45m), at the upper end of expectations of £35m to £45m, with forward sales looking solid.

Watch: Global markets rally ahead of US election

Primark slumps over lost sales

Pre-tax profits at Associated British Foods (ABF.L) have slumped 34% over the past year, as it estimated COVID-19 had cost it £2bn in lost sales at Primark.

The Primark owner, a global group with food, ingredients and retail arms, was weighed down by the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on retail in Europe and the US.

“Unable to sell anything, Primark moved from profit to loss in a few short days, with no visibility as to how long these conditions would persist,” it said in its annual results about the impact of lockdowns earlier this year. On Monday it said fresh closures across Europe would cost it £375m in lost sales.

It said adjusted pre-tax profits for the wider group had fallen by more than a third to £914m in its full year to 12 September. It recorded £156m in exceptional costs. Group revenue slid 12% to £13.9bn.

Saudi Aramco’s profits plummet

Saudi Aramco (2222.SR), the world’s largest oil company, has reported plummeting profits as the COVID-19 pandemic leads to collapsing demand for oil.

Net income at the Saudi state-owned oil company was $11.8bn in the third quarter, Aramco said on Tuesday, 44% lower than the same period a year earlier.

Aramco declared a dividend of $18.7bn for the quarter, up 40% of last year. The increase reflects the company’s commitment to shareholder payouts and the price of attracting investor interest in tough market conditions.

The price of oil (BZ=F, CL=F) has fallen by more than 35% since the start of the year as the pandemic has led to plummeting demand for fuel.

Global markets rally ahead of US election

European and Asian markets are rallying on Tuesday as millions of US citizens are set to cast their vote to elect their new president.

Across Europe, meanwhile, COVID-19 restrictions are tightening as cases continue to surge, with Italy announcing a new three-tier system that is intended to avoid another national lockdown.

In the UK, the city of Liverpool will be the first to have mass rapid testing, with plans underway for a national rollout in the weeks ahead. The entire nation enters into a month long lockdown on Thursday, with the government attempting to double down on its financial support for various groups, including the self-employed.

Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) rose 0.6%, France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) added 0.9% in Paris, and the IBEX 35 (^IBEX) gained 0.5% in Madrid.

Wall Street futures have joined the global rally. The S&P 500 (ES=F) was up 0.6%, while the Dow Jones (YM=F) was 0.7% higher and the Nasdaq (NQ=F) had gained 0.3%.

Asian markets have tracked Wall Street’s lead this morning.

Stock had rallied strongly during the Asian trading session. Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) is up 1.4%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) gained 2.1%, and the Shenzhen Component (399001.SZ) rose 1.2%. The Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) was up 1.4%.

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