Record activity on Rightmove, record influx at Hargreaves Lansdown, and US jobs in focus

Record activity on Rightmove, record influx at Hargreaves Lansdown, and US jobs in focus

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

Superdry surges

Shares in Superdry (SDRY.L) surged on Monday after the struggling fashion brand delivered a sunny update.

Superdry said recent sales had been “better than our initial expectations” and announced it had bolstered its balance sheet and secured a new £70m ($91m) borrowing facility.

“The actions we have taken to date have greatly strengthened our cash position, which together with our new ABL [asset backed lending] Facility, give us the flexibility to execute our current plans and to secure our recovery,” chief executive Julian Dunkerton said in a statement. 

“Together, we are making our way through this unprecedented period, and I’m confident we can reset the brand and deliver on our transformation plans.”

Sales in the 13 weeks to 25 July were still down 24{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} on last year but the stock surged over 17{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49}.

Royal London falls to loss

Life insurance, pensions, and investment provider Royal London has fallen to a half-year loss, hurt by declining new business due to COVID-19.

Royal London, which covers 8m Brits, said it made a pre-tax loss of £181m in the six months to 30 June. New business fell over 9{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} to £4.7bn and net inflows collapsed over 80{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} to £997m. Funds under management remained stable at £139bn.

Royal London said it had set aside £10m to cover potential life insurance claims linked to COVID-19. The Guardian reported that Royal London has already paid out £8.5m to 1,200 policy holders due to coronavirus deaths.

“Our focus has been on supporting customers and advisers through the challenges associated with COVID-19,” chief executive Barry O’Dwyer said in a statement.

“COVID-19 will inevitably continue to have an impact on new business prospects. Looking further ahead, our strong capital position and unrivalled reputation with advisers and customers will stand us in good stead as we continue to help customers meet their protection, investment and long-term savings needs.”

Oil prices rose on Monday, amid hopes that the worst may be over for fuel demand.

Amin Nasser, chief executive of the world’s biggest oil company Saudi Aramco, told reporters on Sunday: “The worst is likely behind us.”

Nasser’s sentiment echoes that of the International Energy Agency (IEA), which said last month “the worst of the oil market turbulence is behind us.”

Meanwhile, Iraq last week pledged to cut its oil output by 400,000 barrels per day, which should support prices by restricting supply in the market.

Brent futures (BZ=F) were up 0.8{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} to $44.79 (£34.30) per barrel on Monday morning, while crude (CL=F) was up 1.2{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} to $41.75.

The rally buoyed oil stocks. In London, BP (BP.L) was trading 3.5{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} higher, while Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB.L) was up 2.5{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49}.

Shares in Suadi Aramco (2222.SR) were up just 0.3{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} in Riyadh. Despite its relatively upbeat outlook and a commitment to pay a dividend, the company reported a 73{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} slump in second quarter earnings.

European stock markets opened higher on Monday, at the start of what looked to be a quiet day for data and earnings.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was up 0.3{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} by mid-morning, while the DAX (^GDAXI) was flat in Frankfurt, the CAC 40 (^FCHI) was up 0.3{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} in Paris, and the IBEX 35 (^IBEX) was 0.7{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} higher in Madrid.

Stock markets were mixed in Asia overnight. The Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) dropped 0.5{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} after authorities in Hong Kong arrested prominent pro-democracy campaigner and business man Jimmy Lai under China’s widely-condemned national security law. Lai is the most prominent figure to be detained under the law so far.

On mainland China, the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) rose 0.7{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} and the Shenzen Component (399001.SZ) was flat. In Australia, the ASX 200 (^AXJO) rose 1.7{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49}. Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) was closed for a holiday.

Wall Street looked set for a quiet open later today. S&P 500 futures (ES=F) were up 0.1{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49}, Dow Jones futures (YM=F) were 0.4{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} higher, and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were trading flat.

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