London closed comfortably below its best levels of the day despite better than expected US jobless data which had some market commentators ‘crying foul’. US non-farm payrolls grew by 200,000 during the month of December. The consensus estimate was for a reading of 155,000. Morgan Stanley has suggested, however, that a ‘seasonal quirk’ distorted the figures by +42,000. Barclays Capital seems to be of a similar opinion, indicating that, “while we characterize this employment report as upbeat and consistent with the underlying acceleration in economic activity in the second half of last year, we suggest that the December data probably overstate the rate of improvement in labor market conditions.”
The FTSE 100 finished at 5,649.68, or 0.45% better on Friday with Telecoms pushing demand. Mobile phone networks giant Vodafone was on the up after a bullish note from Goldman Sachs on the company and sector. Satellite broadcaster BSkyB was brought to earth, however, by Morgan Stanley downgrading the stock to “equalweight” from “overweight”. Morgan Stanley were keener on ITV though, which it has upgraded to “overweight” from “equalweight”.
No-frills airline easyJet was thankful for a mild December, in contrast to the snow-bound final month of 2010. The airline saw a sharp year-on-year increase in the number of passengers carried in December, up 13.1% to 4.14m from 3.66m in December 2010.
David McKinney, Chief Operating Officer of Pace, is to leave the set-top box maker after his position disappeared in a management restructuring. Key operations and procurement functions that previously reported to McKinney will now report directly to Mike Pulli, the new Chief Executive Officer who used to be President of Pace Americas. Pulli’s old position is to be filled by Tim O’Loughlin, who has been with Pace for more than a decade, many of them as part of Pace’s Americas leadership team.
In the small-caps, Vimto-maker Nichols issued a bubbly update in which it said 2011 figures will be ahead of market expectations. In January 2012, the company is launching a new range of Weight Watchers branded, low calorie soft drinks into the UK and the Republic of Ireland, which it hopes will add a few pounds to its bottom line.
GlobeOp Financial Services, saw its share price soar after confirming recent speculation it is holding discussions with Advent International Corporation and TPG Capital regarding possible offers.