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Reports UK

UK stock market morning note (April 30, 2014)

April 30, 2014, Wednesday, 10:26 GMT | 05:26 EST | 13:56 IST | 16:26 SGT
Contributed by SVS Securities

The FTSE 100 is called to open flat this morning following the mixed performances on Wall Street and in Asia ahead of further UK corporate news and the US FOMC statement which is due to be released at 7.00pm UK time. Overnight we had domestic economic news showing that UK consumer confidence had risen to a near 7 year high to -3 in April according to the GfK monthly survey. Today's economic diary now focuses on the US with the release of the ADP non-farm employment data and advance GDP reading due out at lunchtime in addition to the FOMC. Commodity prices are slightly lower and on the foreign exchanges, the dollar is slightly higher against both the pound and euro ahead of these data releases.

Company Announcements


IMS reports that Next Brand sales for the first 13 weeks of its financial year rose 10.8%, of which 2.2% came from the opening of profitable new space. Next Retail sales increased 8.8% and Next Directory was up 13.7%. With sales currently ahead of its 4%-8% full year guidance, it is increasing this to 5.5%-9.5%, PBT is raised to between GBP750m-GBP790m and EPS growth to 8%-14%. It will return a third special dividend of 50p which will be paid on 1 August 2014.

Home Retail Group

Full Year Results notes 'good performances' at both Argos and Homebase with both businesses achieving positive lfl sales growth throughout the year. Group sales rose 3% to GBP5.6bn with benchmark PBT up 27% to GBP115.4m. The full year dividend is raised 10% to 3.3p. It noted that it will continue to assume a subdued consumer environment until the recovery is more broadly based, adding that its strong financial position will enable it to invest in the Argos Transformation plan to reinvent it as a digital leader and in the Homebase Renewal plan.

British American Tobacco

IMS for the 3 months to end March 2014 notes revenue grew 2% at constant rates of exchange and was 12% lower at current exchange rates with cigarette volume declining 1% to 158bn with a fall of 1.1% in total tobacco volume. However, Global Drive Brand cigarette volume rose 6.3% and pricing remains 'on track'. It noted that it remains confident of delivering consistent growth in earnings in constant currency terms which it will recognise with an increased dividend, adding that results will be more skewed to H2 than previous years.

Standard Life

Q1 IMS reports that assets under administration rose 1.5% to GBP247.8bn driven by net inflows of GBP2.4bn. Fee income grew 12% to GBP374m with it noting that it was well positioned for the changes announced in the UK Budget and other regulatory developments and had a strong Balance Sheet with an estimated IGD surplus of GBP3.9bn.