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UK stock market morning note (January 08, 2014)

January 8, 2014, Wednesday, 13:07 GMT | 08:07 EST | 18:37 IST | 21:07 SGT
Contributed by SVS Securities

The FTSE 100 is called to open slightly lower this morning as investors look ahead to the release of more economic data through to the end of this week. Today's economic diary is confined to the US with the publication of the ADP non-farm employment change data and this evening at 7.00pm UK time the FOMC meeting minutes. Commodity prices are mixed and on the foreign exchanges, the dollar is weaker against both the pound and the euro but stronger against the yen although all are continuing to trade within narrow ranges.
 
Company Announcements
 
Sainsbury Trading Statement reports that for the 14 weeks to 4 January 2014 total sales rose 2.5% (2.7% ex fuel) with lfl sales in Q3 flat (0.2% ex fuel). It noted the strong performance for its own brand products, growth in the convenience business and its general merchandise and clothing business achieving record levels of market share against the backdrop of a tough market. It added that as with last year, it expects consumers to spend cautiously in the few months post Christmas with its 'Live Well for Less' remaining key to its market outperformance. 
 
Persimmon Trading Statement reports that it had a 'strong finish' to the year and it increased the volume of new home sales delivered to 11,528 for the year, a rise of 16%. The average selling price for 2013 legal completions was around GBP180,900, an increase of 4% on 2012 due to the change in the mix of sales. Full year revenues of GBP2.1bn represent growth of 21% over the prior year. It noted that the growth in revenues and anticipated improvement in operating margins will see it deliver strong underlying PBT growth for 2013. It added that the value of total forward sales at 31 December 2013 was 41% ahead of the prior year at around GBP908m, providing a 'solid platform' for further sales growth in 2014 and held cash balances of about GBP204m at the end of December. 
 
Galliford Try Trading Statement reports another strong performance in H1 with profits anticipated to be at record levels. Housing market conditions have continued to improve and it secured a 16% increase in the landbank during the period. In construction, it has increased the size of its order book and remains focused on margin protection and cash generation. It added that it was confident that its disciplined strategy will deliver further good growth and improved returns this year and beyond.