MARKET REPORT: Homeserve shares soar as Canadians swoop

Homeserve surged after it revealed it was in discussions about a possible takeover. 

Shares in the FTSE 250 emergency repairs group jumped 14.9 per cent, or 127p, to 980.5p following an announcement that it had received several proposals from Canadian asset manager Brookfield and had entered discussions to draw up a potential offer. 

Brookfield’s interest was initially flagged in late March and sent Homeserve’s share price soaring. 

Boost: Shares in the FTSE 250 emergency repairs group jumped 14.9 per cent, or 127p, to 980.5p

At the time, the asset manager had until 5pm on April 21 to make a firm offer under City rules. 

However, as a result of the ongoing negotiations, the deadline for a formal bid was extended to May 19, although Homeserve stressed there was no guarantee an offer would be made. 

Analysts at broker Peel Hunt said the fact Homeserve had entered into discussions with Brookfield could ‘stimulate new interest’ from other potential buyers given what they said were the company’s ‘unique investment attractions’. The FTSE 100 was down 1.4 per cent, or 106.27 points, to 7521.68 and the FTSE 250 slipped 1.3 per cent, or 277.88 points, to 20881.8. 

The London market wobbled after comments from Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell indicated the US central bank could raise interest rates faster than expected. The assessment sent Wall Street down sharply on Thursday night, hitting London’s US-exposed investment firms in Friday’s session. 

Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, which counts US tech firms such as Tesla, Amazon and Nvidia among its major holdings, was down 2.6 per cent, or 24p, to 908p. 

Polar Capital Technology Trust, whose largest holdings include Microsoft, Apple and Google parent Alphabet, also dropped 3.6 per cent, or 75p, to 2020p. 

Meanwhile, the JP Morgan American Investment Trust fell 2.7 per cent, or 21p, to 758p, Allianz Technology Trust lost 2.2 per cent, or 5.5p, to 249.5p and Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust slipped 4.7 per cent, or 10p, to 205p. 

MARKET REPORT: Homeserve shares soar as Canadians swoop

A plunge in UK retail sales in March as consumers tightened their belts amid the cost-of-living crisis weighed on some of the market’s biggest high street names. 

Fears shoppers are starting to cut back sent shares in Next down 1.9 per cent, or 118p, to 6240p, B&Q-owner Kingfisher fell 4.7 per cent, or 12.5p, to 256p, JD Sports dropped 1.7pc, or 2.45p, to 144.8p and Primark-owner AB Foods also lost 1.4 per cent, or 23p, to 1633.5p. 

Things were also downbeat among the mid-cap retailers, with Marks & Spencer falling 1.8 per cent, or 2.85p, to 151.9p, footwear business Dr Martens slipping 3.1 per cent, or 7.6p, to 236.8p, Warhammer figurine maker Games Workshop sinking 3.7 per cent, or 285p, to 7485p, homeware retailer Dunelm losing 4 per cent, or 42p, to 1020p and electronics firm Currys down 1.6 per cent, or 1.5p, to 95.4p. 

The decline in retail sales and a drop in consumer confidence also piled pressure on the pound, which sank to its lowest level since late 2020, prompting some analysts to predict the Bank of England may raise interest rates less aggressively despite ongoing inflation. 

The prospect of a slower rate rise, as well as the weakness in the economy, weighed on banking stocks. Lloyds was down 1.7 per cent or 0.82p, to 46.11p, Barclays lost 2.2 per cent, or 3.36p, to 146.7p, NatWest fell 1.6 per cent, or 3.7p, to 222.7p, HSBC sank 2.5 per cent, or 13.6p, to 523.3p and Standard Chartered dipped 1.7 per cent, or 8.8p, to 515.4p. 

The major airlines lost some altitude after Barclays trimmed target prices for the sector. 

British Airways-owner IAG dipped 2.3 per cent, or 3.58p, to 149.32p after analysts at the bank lowered their target on the stock to 205p from 210p and Easyjet lost 4 per cent, or 23.4p, to 568.4p after being cut to 700p from 705p.

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