Oil Firms Up On Production Cut Hopes, Nasdaq At Record Highs

After seeing prices slashed by 20% from its 2020 peak, oil has started to put up a bit of a fight on hopes that OPEC may intervene and cut output by 500,000 barrels per day due to the impact of the coronavirus. US crude is up just over 2% today at $50.83 per barrel at the time of writing.

Markets have been lapping up the People’s Bank of China stimulus, in particular, the Nasdaq, which posted record highs yesterday. Futures are pointing towards another positive open with all 3 US indices up 0.9-1.1%. With China hinting that further stimulus could be forthcoming, we could see this rally continue barring any significant deterioration with the coronavirus situation.

Barratt raises the roof with higher half-year profits

Barratt Developments (BDEV), Britain’s biggest house builder, reported a 3.7% rise in pre-tax profits for the last six months to the end of December, up to £423 million. During the period, the firm said it sold its highest number of homes compared with similar periods over the last 12 years, selling more houses at lower prices.

Conversely, competitor Redrow (RDW.L) reported a 15% fall in profits this morning, blaming Brexit uncertainty. Pre-tax profits fell to £157m, while revenues dropped by 10% to £870 million. Describing performance as “robust”, Redrow said Brexit had slowed the time it took to sell homes, particularly in complicated selling chains. However, reservations for new builds had risen by 18%.

Pepco (, the owner of a discount chain Poundland, reported strong revenue growth in its first quarter and said it was confident of further growth across the rest of the year. Revenues for the group, which also includes European brands Dealz, rose 13.3% to $1.2bn, partly driven by new store openings. Like for like revenue grew by 3.9%.

New York Stock Exchange owner makes $30bn move for eBay

In US stocks, the owner of the New York Stock Exchange, Intercontinental Exchange Inc, has reportedly made an offer to buy eBay (EBAY) for more than $30bn. The news was met with mixed reactions by investors in the two firms. ICE has been a serial acquirer, picking up several businesses in recent years, but investors did not show confidence in the prospects for the eBay deal. ICE’s share price fell 7.5% after the news broke. Shares in eBay gained 8.8% after falling double digits over the previous six months. The online retail market has been under pressure from hedge funds and activist investors to offload its classified ad business and StubHub to focus on driving growth in its core business. For ICE, the value in a deal would be in the marketplace business, not classified ads, as while the consumer sphere is new territory the firm has transferable experience from running financial marketplaces.

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