(Bloomberg) -- Fitch followed S&P in lowering its credit outlook for the UK. Meanwhile, some of the UK’s biggest firms reported this morning. Here’s the key business news from London-listed companies on Thursday:

Shell Plc: The energy behemoth pointed to a weaker third quarter performance, following two sets of record earnings, as several parts of its sprawling business fared worse. 

  • Gas trading performance was “significantly lower” than the second quarter and its indicative oil-refining margin dropped to $15 a barrel, compared with $28 in the prior period

Imperial Brands Plc: The Kool cigarettes maker announced a share buyback program of £1 billion and confirmed its committed to “meaningfully” reduce its capital base “over time.”

  • Trading in the year has so far been in line with expectations, the company said

Diageo Plc: The liquor giant saw organic net sales growth across all regions in its new fiscal year, but warned the overall environment will likely stay challenging, with “ongoing volatility due to geopolitical uncertainty, a weakening of consumer spending power, inflationary pressures and disruption related to Covid-19.”

  • The company is scheduled to hold its annual shareholder meeting today

CMC Markets Plc: The derivatives dealer expects its first-half net operating income to be 20% higher than in the same period last year, citing an improvement in “underlying market activity” through August and September. 

Outside The City

This week’s Tory conference in Birmingham was derailed by criticism of Prime Minister Liz Truss — who is now facing a fight to survive.

Millions more Britons will be dragged into higher rates of income tax over the next three years, costing twice as much as Truss’s personal tax cuts, according to calculations by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Meanwhile, the UK’s credit outlook was lowered to negative by Fitch Ratings, which cited risks that the government’s new growth plan could increase its fiscal deficit. Fitch affirmed the UK’s rating at AA-, the fourth highest level. S&P Global Ratings  last week also lowered the UK’s outlook because of risks to the nation’s fiscal health. 

In Case You Missed It 

London’s housing crisis is spreading, with a record surge in the number of tenants looking for rooms to rent far outstripping the places available.

Everton FC is drawing takeover interest from a US special purpose acquisition company co-led by George Soros’s nephew, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. 

Looking Ahead

J D Wetherspoon Plc is due to cap off the earnings week tomorrow. The pub chain’s shares are exposed to economic sentiment in the UK, and Liberum analyst Anna Barnfather said last week she expects the company to make  subdued comments on current trading. 

For a news fix when the day is done, sign up to The Readout with Allegra Stratton, to make sense of the day’s events.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.