For all the talk of a Brexit slowdown, international recruiter Hays posted growth across all its key countries, including the UK.
Though its fees grew slowest in the UK and Ireland at 5 per cent, compared to 8 per cent in Australia and New Zealand, 19 per cent in Germany and 20 per cent in the rest of the world, finance director Paul Venables was chuffed with the performance here.
He said: ‘The UK has been one of the businesses which has outperformed over this financial year.
‘Our expectations of growth at the moment are quite modest, and had it been flat for the year we’d have been positive.’
Investors were on the same page, as shares shot up by 8.6 per cent, or 16.4p, to 207.6p. In fact, net fees earned by Hays globally hit a record high in the three months ending in June. Venables said that UK businesses have been cutting down on large expenditures, including staff, as the lack of clarity on what Brexit will do to the economy has caused them to tread cautiously.
All of Hays’ growth in the UK came from finding people temporary, rather than permanent, jobs. The implication of this is that employers are reluctant to invest in people for the long term.
Venables added: ‘The minute we do get clarity on Brexit, whatever that is within reason, I think the investment projects which are on hold will be released.’ That could mean more impressive growth ahead for the recruiter.
The FTSE 100 ended the day up 0.14 per cent, or 10.54 points, at 7661.87 as knocks to the miners caused by lower commodities prices failed to drag it down.
The blue-chip index was also lifted by a weakened pound.
Sterling took a dip after President Trump made explosive comments on Brexit and the US’s relationship with the UK, which he later tried to down play in an afternoon press conference.
Software giant Micro Focus climbed after a tumultuous week, as investors re-evaluated a half-year announcement which wiped 9.2 per cent off its share price on Wednesday. Though they were unnerved by Micro Focus’s confession that the Hewlett Packard Enterprise acquisition had been bungled, confidence seemed to be shoring up on assurances they would keep investing. Shares rose by 4.7 per cent, or 57p, to 1278.5p.
Credit check firm Experian also climbed on the back of its first-quarter update, which showed growth in all divisions.
Steve Clayton, manager of the Hargreaves Lansdown Select UK Growth Shares fund which has a 3.8 per cent stake in Experian, said: ‘The States and Asia led the way, with double-digit growth, while the UK business was the laggard, but even there the group still managed to grow at an underlying 3 per cent.’ Experian’s shares have risen more than 20 per cent in recent weeks, implying investors had positive expectations for the company.
Clayton added: ‘Experian is at the heart of the data economy and, in today’s digital economy, data is ever more critical.’ However, investors’ hopes may have been just a little too high, as shares fell back by 0.7 per cent, or 13.5p, to 1907p.
Marketing giant DCC was in the money as it announced acquisitions in both the UK and the US for a combined £110m.
On home soil, it grabbed mobile phone accessory business Kondor from private equity firm HIG.
In the US, DCC scooped up Stampede, which specialises in selling broadcast camera equipment from brands such as Epson, LG, Samsung and Sharp. DCC’s shares rose 3.7 per cent, or 255p, to 7155p.
Lender ASA International, which gives entrepreneurial women in low-income communities access to loans, ended its first day on the London Stock Exchange. The £313m business ended the day up 7.3 per cent, or 23p, at 336p.