What to Watch: Employment figures, Meggitt profit dent, Landsec woes

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Traffic passes over Westminster Bridge. Employment figures suffered a sharp decline in the three months to the end of September. Photo: Alastair Grant/AP

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

UK employment sees biggest decline for four years

The number of people in work in Britain has fallen at its fastest pace over a quarter in more than four years as employers have axed jobs, new figures show.

Employment is still near record highs as Britain gears up for a general election and another Brexit deadline, but the proportion of people in work fell 0.1 percentage point to 76% between July and September.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday show 32.75 million people were in work over the summer, down 58,000 on the quarter.

One economist said the labour market was “showing more signs of strain” as the ONS highlighted record quarterly declines in women in work, down 93,000, and in part-time workers, down 164,000. But full-time posts rose by 106,000.

Boeing 737 Max grounding hits London-listed Meggitt

The grounding of Boeing’s (BA) 737 Max jets worldwide will hit profits at aerospace parts supplier Meggitt (MGGT.L), the company said on Tuesday.

Meggitt delivered a mixed update to investors, touting strong revenue growth at its defence business but warning that ongoing issues with the 737 Max will cap operating margins.

Meggitt, which is part of the FTSE 100, reported “stronger than previously anticipated” revenue growth in the third quarter, driven by orders from defence companies. Sales in its defence business grew by 20% in the quarter.

As a result, Meggitt now expects revenue growth of 6% to 7% for the year, up from a previous forecast of 4% to 6%.

But the company warned that supply chain pressures and the continued grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max jets means profits will be constrained. Operating margins will be “towards the lower end of our guidance”, between 17.7% and 18.2%.

Retail woes wipe £368m off Landsec portfolio value

Shopping centre owner Landsec has plunged to a half-year loss after taking a £368m hit on the value of its properties from woes in the retail sector.

The group – whose portfolio includes Trinity Leeds in West Yorkshire and Westgate Oxford – blamed the spate of high-profile retail failures and rescue deals for a 2.8% fall in the value of its properties to £13.4bn in the six months to 30 September.

This saw it slump to an interim pre-tax loss of £147m, against profits of £42m a year earlier.

It comes after major retailers such as department store chain Debenhams collapsed into administration, with its lenders seizing control, while major tenants including the likes of Sir Philip Green’s Topshop empire Arcadia have also secured company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) to slash rents and shut shops.

UK's top four supermarkets are all losing market share

Britain’s four biggest supermarkets have all seen their sales decline over the past year as they lose market share to smaller rivals, according to new figures from research firm Kantar.

Kantar said the grocery sector as a whole has grown 1%, a slight decrease on the growth rate last month. It highlighted “a backdrop of political uncertainty and a persistently wet autumn.”

Its latest report suggests total sales were up £262m to £26.93bn in the 12 weeks to 3 November compared with the same period a year earlier.

But the biggest players all appear to have lost ground as smaller rivals have caught up, with Ocado recording the fastest gains and Lidl, Aldi, and independent shops also growing fast.

The figures, based on the grocery habits of 30,000 demographically representative households, suggest Morrisons (MRW.L) saw the biggest slide in sales of the big four, down 1.7% to £2.7bn.

European stocks higher

European stocks climbed on Tuesday, with the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) up 0.36%. Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) is up by 0.54%, while France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) is up by 0.30%.

The pound was trading 0.14% lower against the dollar (GBPUSD=X) at around $1.283. It fell around 0.1% against the euro (GBPEUR=X) to just over €1.16.

What to expect in the US

Futures are pointing to a slightly higher open for US stocks.

S&P 500 futures (ES=F) are up 0.06%. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F) are up 0.07% and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) are up 0.14%.