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FTSE 100 at the close: Smurfit Kappa, Associated British Foods


By Patrick Munnelly, Market Strategist, Tickmill

On Tuesday, the FTSE 100 index in the UK experienced a slight upward movement gaining 0.24%, driven in part by labour market data that hinted at the possibility of the Bank of England nearing the end of its interest rate hike cycle.

In the three months leading up to July, the unemployment rate in Britain has increased to 4.3%, up from the previous rate of 4.2% recorded a month earlier.

However, it’s important to note that wages excluding bonuses saw a notable rise, with a year-on-year increase of 7.8%. This wage growth aligns with the expectations of economists following a recent Reuters poll.

Following the release of the unemployment data, the British pound edged lower against the US dollar, reflecting the market’s reaction to the news.

The rise in the unemployment rate may have contributed to this movement, although the strong wage growth could counterbalance some of the concerns associated with higher unemployment.

FTSE 100 biggest movers

However, the FTSE100 gains were limited due to a significant drop in the share price of packaging producer Smurfit Kappa [LON:SKG]. Smurfit Kappa, a London-listed company, saw a significant decline in its share price, dropping as much as 12.6% to 2,680p during the day, marking its lowest point since July 11.

This decline made Smurfit Kappa the top percentage loser on the FTSE 100 index.

The stock price suffered as a result of the announcement that Smurfit Kappa and WestRock would merge to create one of the world’s largest paper and packaging producers, with an estimated value of nearly $20 billion.

Under the terms of the merger, WestRock stockholders will receive one new Smurfit WestRock share and $5 in cash for each share they hold, equivalent to approximately $43.51 per share.

The newly formed entity, to be named Smurfit WestRock and domiciled in Ireland, will become the largest listed global packaging partner in terms of revenue.

Despite the merger’s potential benefits, the market reaction to the news has been negative.

On the positive side of the ledger Associated British Foods [LON:ABF], the owner of Primark, stood out as the top performer on the FTSE 100. AB Foods’ shares rose by 5.4%, making it the leading percentage gainer on the FTSE 100.

The surge in AB Foods’ stock price came after the company raised its profit outlook for the fiscal year for the second time in four months.

The increased profit outlook was attributed to strong performance from both the Primark clothing business and its food operations.

AB Foods now expects its adjusted operating profit for the year ending September 16 to exceed its previous expectation of being “moderately ahead” of the £1.435 billion ($1.8 billion) reported for 2021/22. This positive news led ABF’s stock to reach its highest level since July 24. The year-to-date gains for AB Foods now stand at more than 33%, reflecting the market’s optimism and confidence in the company’s performance and outlook.

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This article does not constitute investment advice. Do your own research or consult a professional advisor.

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