UK stock market morning note (January 09, 2014)
January 9, 2014, Thursday, 16:46 GMT | 12:46 EST | 22:16 IST | 00:46 SGT
The FTSE 100 is called to open flat this morning as investors look ahead to the monetary policy statement outcomes from the Bank of England and European Central Bank following the Minutes from the US Federal Reserve meeting yesterday evening. The focus will be on the Bank of England in particular for any potential shift to its forward guidance. Today's economic diary also sees the release of the latest US weekly jobless claims at lunchtime. Commodity prices are mixed and on the foreign exchanges, the dollar is weaker against both the pound and the euro but stronger again against the yen although all are continuing to trade range bound ahead of the central banks decision outcomes.
Tesco Christmas and New Year Trading Statement reports that group sales in the 6 weeks to 4 January 2014 fell by 1.2% including petrol -1.6% at actual exchange rates, -0.6% ex petrol and -1.1% at actual exchange rates. In the UK, total sales including VAT and petrol fell by 1.5% and -0.6% ex petrol with lfl sales declining by 2.4%. It noted the increasingly multi-channel Christmas for the retail sector where it played a leading role. Total international sales were down 0.7% at constant exchange rates, ex petrol, an improvement on Q3 despite continuing external challenges in the majority of its markets. It added that reflecting its ongoing investment in challenging conditions for the UK market it now expects full year results to be within the range of current market expectations.
Marks & Spencer IMS reports that in the 13 weeks to 28 December 2013, group sales rose 1.8% with total UK sales up 1.5% and lfl down 0.2%. It noted that General Merchandise had seen a challenging quarter but food had been 'excellent'. M&S.com saw sales in the period up 22.7% with international sales ahead 4.5%. It added that it now expects full year UK gross margin being broadly level on last year and remains cautious about the outlook.
Morrison (Wm) Christmas Trading Update reports that in the 6 weeks to 5 January 2014, total sales ex fuel fell by 1.9% (3.3% including fuel) with lfl sales declining by 5.6% (7.1% including fuel). It noted that difficult market conditions were intensified by the accelerating importance of online and convenience where it is under-represented although it is now ready to launch the former. It added that it expects full year underlying profit performance to be towards the bottom of the range of current market expectations.
RSA Irish and Reserve Review and Business Update confirms that the financial and claim irregularities were confined to Ireland and totalled GB200m. The search for a new Group CEO is progressing and noted that it suffered further weather losses in December which will impact the 2013 Results.