The FTSE 100 is up 0.1 per cent in early trading. Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are Entain, Mitie, Wood Group and Fever-Tree. Read the Thursday 6 June  Business Live blog below.

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De Beers will shine after £4bn Anglo spin-off, insists boss Al Cook

The boss of De Beers has insisted that the company will thrive when it is separated from its current owner Anglo American – with a listing on the London stock market potentially on the cards.

Al Cook pointed out the firm did ‘some of our finest work’ in the 124 years before Anglo took control 12 years ago.

Is Fevertree back on track ahead of key summer trading season?

Fevertree shares rose on Thursday after the group raised hopes it was back on track ahead of its key summer trading season.

The tonic maker told investors ahead of its annual general meeting on Thursday it has delivered topline growth in the year to date and enjoyed market share growth in all regions it operates in.

Mitie boasts another record year thanks to anti-shoplifting scheme

Mitie Group has achieved another year of record turnover thanks to new contracts and the outsourcer’s work tackling retail crime.

The FTSE 250 group saw revenues rocket 11 per cent year-on-year to £4.5billion in the 12 months ending March, smashing last year’s record haul of £4.05billion.

One in 25 new cars cost less than £20k as private buyer sales drip 13%

Drivers are turning their backs on electric vehicles as well as petrol and diesel cars amid the soaring cost of new models.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 57,453 were sold to private buyers in May, which was 12.9 per cent down on the same month last year.

Spending in Dorset and Cornwall ballooned in early May bank holiday

Spending on staycations and home improvements rose sharply during the early May bank holiday, Mastercard spending data seen by This is Money reveals.

Staycation spending across Dorset was 29 per cent higher year-on-year during the period, while rising 24 and 13 per cent in Cornwall and Devon respectively.

MARKET REPORT: Nvidia races to become world’s third £3trillion company

Nvidia is on the cusp of becoming the world’s third $3 trillion company as shares in the artificial intelligence chip designer hit new highs last night.

The jump means Nvidia is within striking distance of overtaking iPhone maker Apple, driven by an investor frenzy for the AI pioneer.

HVPE ups RCF to $1.2bn

FTSE 250-listed HarbourVest Global Private Equity (HVPE) has agreed a new secured a new and extended revolving credit facility, growing the investment trust’s buffer from $800million to $1.2billion.

It told shareholders this morning: ‘The facility endows HVPE with a stronger working capital position in the near term, enabling increased flexibility in our approach to capital allocation and deployment, and smooth operation of the new Distribution Pool.

‘The Board believes strongly that this will provide a considerable benefit to shareholders through the cycle, consistent with HVPE’s established long-term strategy.’

Chair Ed Warner added: ‘We are delighted to secure our new and extended RCF, with both new and existing lenders, on competitive terms.

‘The facility provides HVPE with further flexibility for efficient capital allocation through the cycle, to the benefit of shareholders.’

Investors welcome Fevertree market share gains

Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown:

‘The FTSE 100 has a spring in its step this morning, after taking its cue from Wall Street, where technology stocks rose sharply overnight. Closer to home, there’s renewed optimism that the ECB will cut interest rates in its decision later today, which is adding additional enthusiasm into equities.

‘The lingering question, however, is what the interest rate roadmap looks like after June. Even if a cut arrives today, markets will be more interested in understanding expectations for the rest of the year.

‘Fevertree’s shares have risen 2.5%, continuing this year’s rally, after saying full year expectations remain intact. While the brief statement lacked much fizz, there is relief to see market share gains are being won, including in important growth regions outside the UK.

‘The valuation is still sharply down on a one-year view, as investors remain uncertain about the exact trajectory of growth, as well as Fevertree’s ability to grow and maintain a meaningful chunk of the mixer market in the US.’

Axe shares tax to revive UK stock market, says Investment Association

The Investment Association (IA) has called on the next government to scrap stamp duty on shares to help revive the fortunes of Britain’s beleaguered stock market.

Chris Cummings, chief executive of the IA, whose members manage funds worth £8.8 trillion, said the move was an ‘obvious’ way to boost the attractiveness of UK equities.

The brands leading the way in the EV race – and those falling behind

US electric vehicle giant Tesla and China’s BYD are vying with one another for pole position in the global electric car market, but some popular brands are falling further behind, according to a new report.

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) released a ranking of the world’s biggest auto makers based on each’s electric car plans and models on sale in 2023.

Centrica gets a slap on the wrist from investors as it pays boss Chris O’Shea £8.2m

British Gas owner Centrica has been given a slap on the wrist by investors over an £8.2million payday for its boss.

Some 10 per cent of shareholders yesterday opposed the package handed to chief executive Chris O’Shea in 2023 – a near-£4million increase on the previous year.

Market open: FTSE 100 up 0.1%; FTSE 250 adds 0.3%

London-listed stocks have ticked higher at the open, buoyed by expectations of a rate cut by the European Central Bank later today, while mining firm Antofagasta adds to gains.

The ECB’s monetary policy decision is due just after midday and remarks from the central bank’s president, Christine Lagarde, will be scrutinised for clues on interest rate trajectory.

On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada led the charge among G7 nations by initiating its rate easing cycle.

The Bank of England is poised to align closely with the ECB’s forthcoming rate action. Britain’s central bank is scheduled to convene in two weeks.

John Wood Group has surged 9 per cent after the oilfield services and engineering firm said its board has decided to engage with Sidara on a sweetened takeover proposal.

Antofagasta is the top gainer on the FTSE 100 with a 2.5 per cent jump after the miner signed a $1.5billion investment deal to improve water supply at its Chile mining operations.

Vodafone Group and National Grid are the top losers on the benchmark index as they trade without entitlement to their latest dividend payouts.

Workers’ office return boosts Mittie

Adam Vettese, analyst at eToro:

‘Mitie Group seems to have cleaned up in terms of delivering their targets for 2024, with record revenues as well as operating profit up 30% on last year. With contract values going into next year running over £2bn higher than last year, investors could see scope for the strong performance to continue with shares up 20% already in 2024.

‘The facilities management firm’s business understandably took a huge hit during the pandemic. We are now seeing a shift in return to the office and remote working less prevalent than it was, helping to boost demand for Mitie Group.

‘It is worth a cautionary note on the loss of a couple of key contracts, however, if the pipeline is as strong as is indicated then this could be easily offset. Investors will now be looking for shares to reach that pre-pandemic price around 18% away and beyond.’

Labour will hike both income and corporation tax if they win the election, warn City firms

Investors believe Labour will renege on their promises and raise income and corporation tax if they win the election.

In a poll of more than 70 City institutions, six in ten expect Sir Keir Starmer’s party to hike income and corporation tax. The survey by investment bank Nomura revealed just three in ten said they expected taxes to stay flat after a Labour victory.

Wood Group agrees PUSU extension

John Wood Group said last night it would engage with Sidara on a sweetened takeover proposal and grant the Dubai-based engineering and consulting firm access to due diligence materials.

Last week, Sidara raised its proposed takeover offer for the British oilfield services and engineering firm for the third time, saying that the cash offer of 230p apiece was its ‘final offer’.

The UK’s Takeover Panel has granted Sidara until 3 July to either announce a firm intention to make an offer for Wood or walk away under the ‘put up or shut up’ (PUSU) UK takeover rules.

Sidara, whose previous offers were rejected by Wood over concerns related to valuation and future prospects, said last week the London-listed company had not engaged with it since its first approach was made.

Mittie sales hit record £4.5bn

Outsourcing giant Mitie has reported record-high annual sales after securing new projects with the UK Government and developing artificial intelligence-led security to combat retail crime.

The FTSE 250-listed company works with major firms in the UK and globally for services such as cleaning, security, engineering, and building work.

The firm said its revenues jumped by 11 per cent to £4.5billion over the year to the end of March, compared with £4.1billion generated the previous year.

This was driven by its work with the UK Government and technical services seeing double-digit sales growth, and a steady stream of business services contracts for cleaning and security.

Retailers upbeat as economy recovers: Zara owner Inditex, B&M and WH Smith report rising sales

Three major retailers struck an upbeat tone yesterday as the economic recovery continues.

Zara-owner Inditex, discounter B&M and WH Smith said that they were optimistic about the months ahead as they posted rising sales.

It comes amid hopes of interest rate cuts this summer, which would bring relief to homeowners and businesses alike.

Activist ups Entain stake

Activist investor Eminence Capital has boosted its stake in Ladbrokes owner Entain to 5.8 per cent, making it the third biggest shareholder in the gambling giant.

It follows Entain’s decision to hand Eminence, which started the month with a holding of around 4.7 per cent, a number of board seats last month.

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