TOP NEWS SUMMARY: British American Tobacco Upbeat Over Annual Earnings

(Alliance News) - The following is a summary of top news stories ...

Alliance News 12 June, 2019 | 11:26AM
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(Alliance News) - The following is a summary of top news stories Wednesday.
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COMPANIES
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British American Tobacco said it was continuing to "perform well" with both traditional and new products delivering. BAT described itself as "on track" to deliver constant currency revenue growth in the "mid-upper half" of its 3% to 5% long-term guidance range for 2019. This was despite global industry volumes being expected to fall by around 3.5% on the year prior. BAT also anticipated "good" operating margin improvement in 2019. This is despite further investment in its New Categories, which includes vaping, heat-not-burn and other new products lines. All told, BAT forecasts constant-currency adjusted operating profit to deliver growth in the "upper half" of its 5% to 7% guidance range. The tobacco firm emphasised its deleveraging plan - following its USD49 billion acquisition of the 58% stake in Reynolds American it did not already own in July 2017 - was on track. "We are on track for a good performance in 2019 with revenue and adjusted operating profit growth in line with our guidance", Chief Executive Officer Jack Bowles said.
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Reckitt Benckiser Group said it has appointed PepsiCo Inc Global Chief Commercial Officer Laxman Narasimhan as its new chief executive officer. Narasimhan will join UK consumer goods firm Reckitt on July 16 as CEO-designate and will become CEO at the start of September. Narasimhan has been a member of PepsiCo's executive committee for the past four years, where he leads Strategy, Global Category Groups, and Global Research & Development for the US maker of Pepsi cola, Doritos tortilla chips and Quaker Oats. Prior to becoming chief commercial officer, Narasimhan was senior vice president and chief financial officer of PepsiCo Americas Food. PepsiCo said Narasimhan will be succeeded as global chief commercial officer by Ram Krishnan, who is currently CEO of Greater China for PepsiCo. Narasimhan will succeed Reckitt's current boss, Rakesh Kapoor, who announced his intention to to retire back in January.
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Saga said Chief Executive Officer Lance Batchelor will retire with effect from the end of January 2020, when the company's current financial year ends. The over-50s insurance and travel firm said it started the process to search for a successor. Batchelor has been in the role at Saga for six years since 2014, and prior to that was chief executive officer for takeaway firm Domino's Pizza for three years from 2011 to 2014.
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boohoo Group reported a strong performance for the first quarter of its financial year, with revenue growth across all geographies. Total revenue for the three months to the end of May rose by 39% to GBP254.3 million from GBP183.6 million the year before. Revenue also grew by 39% on a constant currency basis. Regionally, the UK remained the largest contributor to revenue, rising by 27% to GBP140.6 million from GBP110.7 million a year prior.
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Pendragon issued a profit warning, saying it now expects to post a small underlying loss in 2019 due to market conditions and excess stock across the business. The automotive retailer said the UK market has stayed "challenging" and noted the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders' report of a 3.1% decline in new car registrations in the year to May. Adding to the difficult market, Pendragon said it has also be hurt by "certain internal operational challenges" and now expects to report a small underlying pretax loss in 2019, prior to the disposal of its US Motor group unit. The first half of the year is likely to be "significantly loss making", followed by a return to profit in the second half.
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MARKETS
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London shares were lower amid trade worries and concerns about slowing global economic growth. BAT was the worst blue chip performer, down 5.5%. Oil was under pressure over concerns about excess supply and global growth. Wall Street was pointed to a lower open ahead of US inflation readings at 1330 BST.
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FTSE 100: down 0.5% at 7,359.02
FTSE 250: down 0.4% at 19,256.38
AIM ALL-SHARE: down 0.1% at 944.68

GBP: up at USD1.2740 (USD1.2722)
EUR: flat at USD1.1324 (USD1.1316)

GOLD: up at USD1,337.41 per ounce (USD1,325.80)
OIL (Brent): down at USD60.64 a barrel (USD62.54)

(changes since previous London equities close)
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ECONOMICS AND GENERAL
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A bitter UK Commons battle over attempts to block a no-deal Brexit will erupt on Wednesday, while front runner for the Tory crown Boris Johnson unveils his leadership agenda. The Labour-led bid to use opposition time to try and give control of the Commons agenda to MPs on June 25 in order to stop the UK exiting the EU without a deal in the autumn has caused fury among Tory Eurosceptics. Johnson will set out his agenda if he took over Downing Street after being criticised by some opponents for giving rare interviews and not committing to leadership hustings since UK Prime Minister Theresa May set a timetable for her departure. The former foreign secretary is expected to use his leadership launch to again insist Britain must quit the EU by October 31.
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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has issued a fresh warning to the Tory leadership contenders that they will not be able to renegotiate Theresa May's Brexit deal. Juncker said that whoever takes over at No 10 will have to respect the agreement between the UK government and the EU. His comments will be seen as a setback to those contenders – including Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Matt Hancock – who have put a strong emphasis on securing a fresh deal with the EU. Juncker said some "clarifications" may be possible in the Political Declaration, which sets out the basis for negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU. However he was adamant the Withdrawal Agreement – which includes the controversial Northern Ireland backstop as well as Britain's GBP39 billion "divorce" settlement – could not be reopened.
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China's consumer price inflation accelerated on increases in food prices in May, while factory gate inflation slowed on weak commodity demand, data from National Bureau of Statistics showed. Consumer prices advanced 2.7% year-on-year in May, after gaining 2.5% in April. The rate was the fastest in more than a year and came in line with expectations. On the other hand, producer price inflation eased to 0.6% in May, as expected, from 0.9% in April. The decrease was largely due to the fall in manufactured industrial input prices.
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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe departed Japan on Wednesday for a two-day visit to Iran amid growing tensions between Tehran and Washington. Abe, who will become the first Japanese premier to visit Iran in 41 years, is scheduled to hold talks with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani on Wednesday and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday, the Japanese government said. "Based on traditionally friendly relations between Japan and Iran, I would like to exchange frank opinions in order to defuse tensions," Abe told reporters upon his departure from Tokyo's Haneda Airport.
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