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FTSE 100 closes at fresh record high after Christmas break

By Press Association

Published: 11:56 EST, 27 December 2017 | Updated: 12:26 EST, 27 December 2017 ..

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By Press Association

Published: 11:56 EST, 27 December 2017 | Updated: 12:26 EST, 27 December 2017

The FTSE 100 has closed at a fresh record high on its first trading day after the Christmas break.

It is the second such record in nearly a week, having pushed above the 7,600 mark for the first time last Thursday to reach 7,603.98 points.

That upward trend continued on Wednesday, when London’s blue chip index rose 0.37% or 28.02 points to close at 7,620.68 points.

Stocks usually extend their gains in the final trading days of December in what is often referred to as a “Santa rally”.

The phenomenon has been chalked up to factors including lower trading volumes and bargain hunting ahead of an anticipated rise in stock prices at the start of January.

The FTSE 100’s European counterparts also ended the day higher, with the French Cac 40 and German Dax up around 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively.

Sterling ended the day mixed, rising nearly 0.2% against the US dollar to trade at 1.339, but falling more than 0.1% versus the euro to 1.125.

In oil markets, Brent crude prices rose 1.4% to around 66.35 US dollars per barrel.

Prices were being propped up by news of supply outages, including a blast that is expected to keep a Libyan pipeline out of action for at least a week.

The Forties pipeline was shut down earlier this month after a crack was found (Ineos/PA)

The Forties pipeline was shut down earlier this month after a crack was found (Ineos/PA)

The Forties pipeline, which carries 40% of North Sea oil and gas, has partially reopened after a crack was repaired, but is not expected to fully reopen until the new year.

In UK stocks, Royal Dutch Shell’s “B” shares were up 0.6% or 16p at 2,487.5p and Barclays rose 0.5p to 202.65p despite warning that earnings would be hit by Donald Trump’s US tax reforms.

The pair said the changes – which were signed into law on December 22 and will see corporation tax in the US slashed from 35% to 21% – will affect profits as they have to recalculate the deferred tax assets built up on their balance sheets.

But both firms expect to benefit in the long run.

Premier Oil shares rose more than 3%, or 2.5p, to 78.75p after the company announced that it had drawn first oil from its Catcher Area project in the North Sea.

Shares in DFS edged higher by 0.25p to 198.75p amid news that the group struck a £1.2 million deal to buy a clutch of stores and assets from failed retailer Multiyork Furniture to boost its national chain and Sofa Workshop brand.

It comes after 50-strong store chain Multiyork collapsed in late November.

IWG surged 27% or 54.2p to 254.4p after the office space group confirmed it been approached by Brookfield Asset Management and Canadian private equity firm Onex over a possible takeover offer.

They now have until January 20 to put forward a firm offer for IWG.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Fresnillo up 47p at 1,397p, NMC Health up 87p at 2,903p, Mediclinic International up 15.5p to 638p, and Old Mutual up 5.5p to 227.8p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Ferguson down 100p at 5,325p, Sky down 15p at 1,000p, Rolls-Royce Holdings down 10p at 849.5p, and WorldPay Group down 4.6p at 424p.

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Australia

Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms

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The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.

The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.

All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.

It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.

British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.

The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.

The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.

It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.

“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.

“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”

The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.

It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128

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Australia

Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official

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Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.

The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.

Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.

“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”

However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.

Australia’s tight restrictions

The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.

Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.

Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.

Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.

Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.

Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.

The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.

While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.

Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.

In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581

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Australia

Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection

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The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.

Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.

Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.

It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.

The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”

“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.

“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”

Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.

Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.

For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.

Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.

A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.

Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane

At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.

When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.

Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.

While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.

But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.

And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.

And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836

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