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Reports UK

UK stock market morning note (January 16, 2014)

January 16, 2014, Thursday, 11:29 GMT | 07:29 EST | 16:59 IST | 19:29 SGT
Contributed by SVS Securities

The FTSE 100 is called to open higher this morning although gains may be limited as investors look ahead to more data releases during the session. Overnight we had the RICS monthly house price survey out showing that a balance of +58 surveyors reported domestic house prices rose in December, slightly down on November's +60 and noting that it expects house price inflation of 8% this year. Today's economic diary is confined to the US with the publication of consumer prices data, the latest weekly jobless claims, the Philly Fed manufacturing index and a speech from the outgoing Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke. Commodity prices are generally lower and on the foreign exchanges, the pound is down against both the dollar and the euro but within narrow trading ranges.
Company Announcements
Rio Tinto Q4 2013 Operations Review reports record production for iron ore, bauxite and thermal coal in 2013. It noted that it had exceeded its cost cutting targets for the year and had announced or completed USD3.5bn of non-core asset sales. It added that these actions together with lower capex in 2013 and beyond ensure that it is well positioned to deliver greater value to shareholders.
Associated British Foods Q1 IMS for the 16 weeks to 4 January 2014 reports 'excellent' Christmas trading at Primark, an 'encouraging' performance from Grocery and Ingredients but Sugar weaker than expected. It noted the adverse translation impact of recent sterling strength and no change in full year earnings expectations. 
Home Retail IMS reports that in the 18 weeks to 4 January 2014 both Argos and Homebase had another period of good trading despite the challenging consumer environment. It added that as a result of the trading performance, it now expects to achieve full year benchmark profits towards the top end of the current range of market expectations of GBP90m to GBP109m and remains on track to deliver its investment plans in both businesses. It also separately confirmed the appointment of John Walden who will join the Board as Chief Executive effective from 14 March 2014 replacing Terry Duddy. John Walden joined the group in February 2012 and is the current Managing Director for Argos.
Dixons Retail Trading Statement for the period between 1 November to 4 January reports that it had been a 'lively Christmas with plenty of ups and downs'. Total underlying group lfl sales rose 3% with UK and Ireland lfl ahead 5% with further market share gains and a strong post Christmas sale period. Group gross margins were 0.5% lower and added that it expects performance in the remainder of its financial year to be more modest than the year to date.