BUSINESS LIVE: Bloomsbury lifted by fantasy boom; Games Workshop hands cash to employees; Frasers profits up

The FTSE 100 will open at 8am. Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are Bloomsbury, Games Workshop, Frasers, Balfour Beatty, Smart Metering Systems and Vertu Motors. Read the Thursday 7 December Business Live blog below.

> If you are using our app or a third-party site click here to read Business Live

Frasers profits up

Frasers has said it is on track to meet full-year profit guidance after first-half earnings rose 12.6 per cent, reflecting the success of a plan to take the group upmarket.

The FTSE 100-listed group controlled by Mike Ashley is set to achieve adjusted pretax profit of £500million to £550million in the year to April 2024, up from £478 million a year before.

It made £303.8million in its first half on revenue that rose 4.4 per cent to £2.77billion.

Michael Murray, CEO of Frasers Group, said:

‘We have delivered a strong performance in the first half of the year, with great momentum as we head into the Christmas trading period. The elevation strategy continues to drive strong trading performance across the business with good growth in Sports Direct supported by our brand partners.

‘Our long-term ambitions for our Premium Lifestyle business remain unchanged although it is likely that progress will remain subdued for the short to medium term in the face of a softer luxury market however, we continue to invest with confidence in our unique proposition.

‘During the period, we have opened new elevated stores, and further strengthened brand partnerships to allow us to deliver the best consumer experience. I am also excited about the potential of our strategic investments which we expect to unlock further opportunities for the Group. We have a clear ambition to be the leading sports retailer in EMEA and we are making progress on broadening our footprint through a focused international M&A strategy.’

Gilt yields fall as investors ramp up bets on interest rate cuts next year

Borrowing costs fell as investors ramped up bets on interest rate cuts next year despite efforts by the Bank of England to quash such talk.

The yield on ten-year gilts – a benchmark measure of how much the Government pays to borrow – dropped below 4 per cent for the first time since May.

The slide came as financial markets indicated a just over 50 per cent chance that the first rate cut will come in May.

Bloomsbury lifted by fantasy boom

Bloomsbury Publishing has lifted profit and revenue expectations for the year as the Harry Potter publisher continues to be buoyed by ‘phenomenal demand’ for fantasy fiction.

The group told investors full-year profits would be ‘comfortably ahead’ of forecasts of £274.2million and pre-tax profits would be ‘materially ahead’ of eexpectations of £32.9million.

Nigel Newton, chief executive, said:

‘I am delighted to report a strong period of trading which is principally driven by the continued phenomenal demand for fantasy fiction.

‘Bloomsbury has consistently built its success on the immense talent of our authors and the exceptional hard work of our teams who support them.’