Jobs in focus again as Hays reports while iron ore rebound should boost Rio Tinto

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Jobs or more accurately vacancies have been making headlines all week and are likely to be the focus again tomorrow (Thursday).


Hays PLC (LSE:HAS)’s trading statement should be a cheery affair if recent updates from fellow recruiters are a guide.


Staff shortages abound everywhere, but critically for Hays are especially prevalent in white-collar, managerial, IT and banking and finance positions.


Getting the staff to fill the jobs available is likely to be an issue, but that’s Hays’ skillset so the trading news should be good.


Rival Robert Walters (LSE:RWA) upped its profits forecasts recently saying “Significant wage inflation has emerged particularly for the most sought after skill-sets. In short, the jobs market is hot.”


Initial jobless claims in the US will also be analysed intensely to spot any trend after last week’s non-farm payrolls came in well short of forecasts. Consensus for tomorrow’s number is around 315,000.


In the UK company updates are also due from National Express and Rio Tinto.


Expect more ESG contrition from mining giant Rio, though any comment on dividends and iron ore and other commodity price trends will be the market’s focus.


Iron ore futures have rebounded 30% in the past three weeks after heavy recent falls alongside big gains for aluminium and coal with demand being stoked by the supply chain crisis and a reported rush to build up stocks.


Institutions like JP Morgan, meanwhile, eye big-time dividends. Rio has already paid out US$9.1bn of interim dividends and over the period 2021-23 but JPM expects payout will rise to a cumulative US$52bn over three years, which equates to a third of its market value currently and is comparable to total returns over the entire last decade.


Mergers will no doubt be at the centre of attention for investors when bus company National Express updates the market on Thursday, following last month’s report that it is negotiating an all-share deal with Stagecoach Group PLC (LSE:SGC) (LSE:SGC) – though the availability of drivers, the cost of fuel and whether or not customers want to travel will all very much be issues on the agenda too.


In September, the two companies announced the potential deal which would see National Express plc shareholders with 75% of the enlarged company.


Both companies have been badly affected by the pandemic with the UK government now effectively running the rail and bus networks again and paying fees to operators such as National Express and Stagecoach to operate the services.


In the wake of the news, the Unite union warned National Express that it faces a battle to implement any cost cuts if its takeover bid for rival Stagecoach is successful.


Thursday 14 October:


Trading announcements: Ashmore plc, Domino’s Pizza (NYSE:DPZ) Group PLC, Dunelm plc, Hays PLC (LSE:HAS) (LSE:HAS), National Express plc, Norcros PLC (LSE:NXR), Rank Group (LSE:RNK) plc, Rathbone Brothers PLC (LSE:RAT), Rio Tinto PLC (LSE:RIO)


FTSE 100 ex-dividends to knock 1.56 points off the index: WPP PLC (LSE:WPP), Spirax-Sarco Engineering (LSE:SPX) plc, Tesco PLC (LSE:TSCO)


Economic data: US initial jobless claims

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