New York: 06:31 || London: 11:31 || Mumbai: 15:01 || Singapore: 17:31

Reports UK

UK stock market morning note (December 13, 2013)

December 13, 2013, Friday, 11:49 GMT | 06:49 EST | 16:19 IST | 18:49 SGT
Contributed by SVS Securities

The FTSE 100 is called to open slightly lower this morning with investors remaining in cautious mood ahead of the outcome of the US Federal Reserve meeting next week. Today's economic diary is confined to the US with the release of producer prices data at lunchtime. Commodity prices are mixed and on the foreign exchanges, the dollar is up against the yen at well over the Y103 level although the major currencies as a whole are trading in narrow ranges.

Company Announcements

Laura Ashley IMS reports that in the first 19 weeks of H2 to 7 December 2013, total retail sales fell by 2% year-on-year with lfl sales declining by 0.7% and e-commerce sales seeing growth of 1%. For the full year to 7 December 2013, total sales are down 2.1% with lfl sales decreasing by 1.6%. Whilst new licensing arrangements have been signed this year which will benefit profits next year, licensing revenue is forecast to fall by 16% in 2013. It added that Christmas and January combined is a key trading period with much of H2 profitability generated during this time.

RSA Group Completion of Irish Review and Management Changes. It has concluded that following its review it needs to strengthen its Irish reserves by GBP130m which is in addition to the GBP70m previously announced last month relating to claims and finance issues. The group intends to inject GBP135m into RSA Insurance Ireland today. It also notes that it experienced further adverse weather in early December with storms in the UK and Scandinavia leading to net claims of GBP25m for the group. The Irish reserves and weather claims will lead to another reduction in anticipated 2013 earnings and it now expects mid-single digit group return on equity for 2013 with it noting that these events need to be taken into consideration when it comes to its final dividend recommendation in February 2014. RSA has accepted the resignation with immediate effect of Chief Executive, Simon Lee and until a permanent replacement is found, Martin Scicluna Non-Executive Chairman will become Executive Chairman. The latter has initiated a full review of the group's businesses with the objective of improving its capital strength, optimising the business portfolio and delivering a sustainable dividend. Progress on this review will be given at the full year results.