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FTSE 100: London shares to extend gains as UK GDP grows

Published 13/03/2024, 07:39
© Reuters.  FTSE 100 live: London shares to extend gains as UK GDP grows

Proactive Investors - British American Tobacco PLC (LSE:LON:BATS) said it bagged roughly 166.9 billion Indian rupees, or £1.5 billion, from selling a portion of its stake in Indian consumer goods conglomerate ITC.

In a block trade it announced yesterday, the cigarette maker sold around a 3.5% stake in a company it has been invested in for over a century.

As promised, BAT confirmed that intends to use the net proceeds in a share buyback over the next two years, starting with £700 million this year.

"This will enable the allocation of operating cashflow to fund investment in our transformation, continue to deleverage towards our new target range of 2-2.5x adjusted net debt / adjusted EBITDA, while also maintaining a progressive dividend and supporting a sustainable share buyback," it said a statement.

Services sector, manufacturing, trade etc

There's lots more data for investors to crunch from the ONS this morning, including on services, manufacturing, construction and trade.

The UK index of services for January was up 0.2% on December, as forecast, bouncing back from the 0.1% decline a month earlier.

On a three-month basis the services index was flat, improving from a 0.2% fall.

UK industrial production for January fell 0.2%, however, which was worse than expected, having been up 0.6% last time. Year on year, industrial production was up 0.5%, which also disappointed versus forecasts for a 0.8% rise.

Manufacturing production for the month was flat as estimates indicated, following a 0.8% monthly gain in December. Versus a year earlier, manufacturing production was up 2.0% as expected.

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The UK underlying trade deficit widened £2.2 billion to £13.8 billion in the three months to January.

Construction output for the month was up 1.1%, much better than the decline of 0.1% forecast and the previous month's 0.5% fall. Versus a year ago, construction output was up 0.7% after a 3.2% fall in December.

FTSE 100 set to start higher

Traders have predicted the FTSE 100 will add to yesterday's strong gains on Wednesday as GDP figures showed the economy bounced back from a slight recession.

The blue-chip index was up 12 points on the IG spread-betting platform ahead of open, having added 78.58 points the day before to close at 7,747.81.

Gross domestic product figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the UK economy grew 0.2% in January compared to the previous month, as forecast, following the technical recession in the second half of 2023.

But economic growth was down 0.1% for the three months to the end of January compared to the preceding period, also as expected, though this represented an easing from the previous 0.3% decline.

Year-on-year, three-month GDP was down 0.3%.

The total underlying trade deficit widened £2.2bn to £13.8bn in the three months to January 2024.

Commenting on the GDP figures, ONS director of economics statistics Liz McKeown said: “The economy picked up in January with strong growth in retail and wholesaling. Construction also performed well with housebuilders having a good month, having been subdued for much of the last year.

“These were partially offset by falls in TV and film production, lawyers and the often-erratic pharmaceutical industry.

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“Over the last three months as a whole, the economy contracted slightly.”

Read more on Proactive Investors UK


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