BUSINESS LIVE: Shell margins under pressure; YouGov buys US company; Trading platforms increase profits



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The FTSE 100 opens at 8am. Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are Shell, YouGov, CMC Markets, Plus 500 and CMO Group. Read the Business Live blog from Monday January 8 below.

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Business leaders are becoming increasingly optimistic about the UK's prospects for 2024

Business leaders are increasingly optimistic about Britain's prospects for the year ahead, major sector surveys showed today.

Most manufacturers see Britain as a more competitive place to operate compared to 12 months ago, according to a survey by industry body Make UK and accountants PwC.

Geopolitical tensions lead to distrust among investors

Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets, Hargreaves Lansdown:

Caution has returned at the start of the week as investors assess the risks of geopolitical conflict amid fresh signs of global economic slowdown and uncertainty about the path of inflation.

'These are the risks of an expansion of the conflict between Israel and Gaza. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has embarked on a diplomatic tour in an attempt to calm rising tensions. It comes after Israel's defense minister described the hostilities facing the country as an axis rather than a single enemy.

“Concerns are growing that this could lead to renewed violence, especially in Lebanon.”

Nearly 120,000 retail workers lost their jobs last year as High Street was hit by store collapses

Almost 120,000 retail workers lost their jobs last year as the High Street was hit by the collapse of shops including Wilko.

The Center for Retail Research revealed that a total of 119,405 jobs were lost across the sector in 2023.

Their analysis also showed that 10,494 stores closed their doors. When Wilko died, about 400 came close.

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YouGov buys American company

YouGov has acquired US-based survey data management company KnowledgeHound for an undisclosed fee.

The move that further expands the capabilities of the YouGov Crunch research analytics platform to meet the needs of major brands, the group said.

YouGov Chief Financial Officer Alex McIntosh added:

“YouGov's acquisition of KnowledgeHound represents a significant shift in what the industry can expect from data analytics platforms.

'By adding KnowledgeHound – a leading search-based research data analysis solution – to YouGov Crunch – the ultimate tool for detailed data analysis – we will make it easier than ever before to get fast, actionable and reliable insights, all at a place.'

Trading platforms increase profit expectations

CMC Markets has raised its full-year operating profit forecast, with the trading platform citing a strong third quarter driven by improved market conditions.

The company, which offers trading in more than 12,000 financial instruments including stocks, indices, foreign currencies, commodities and government bonds, attributed the strong quarterly performance to resilient demand from business-to-business and institutional investors.

It now expects net operating income of between £290m and £310m for fiscal 2024, up from its previous forecast of £250m to £280m.

In addition, rival Plus500 said it generated revenue of about $725 million and core profit of about $340 million for the year ended December 31, citing expansion into several regions such as Japan and the UAE.

Grocers are going to produce great festive results

Winners and losers on the High Street will emerge this week as some of Britain's biggest stores publish festive trading figures.

M&S is tipped to have had a great Christmas, according to The Mail on Sunday, and will update investors on Thursday.

The supermarket giants are also expected to have performed strongly with Sainsbury's and Tesco, thanks to the publication of figures on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

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Shell's margins have come under pressure as the oil group reports impairment charges of up to $4.5 billion

Energy giant Shell expects refining profits to come under pressure in the fourth quarter, with margins falling from $16 per barrel to $10/barrel.

It also reported impairment charges of about $2.5 billion to $4.5 billion for the fourth quarter, mainly related to the Singapore refining and chemicals hub that the oil giant is looking to sell.