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Reports UK

UK stock market morning note (March 20, 2014)

March 20, 2014, Thursday, 10:08 GMT | 06:08 EST | 14:38 IST | 17:08 SGT
Contributed by SVS Securities

The FTSE 100 is called to open lower this morning following the performances overnight on Wall Street and in Asia on the Ukraine situation and after the US Federal Reserve statement. The latter signalled that its bond buying programme will probably finish this autumn and it may look to start to raise interest rates about 6 months later i.e. spring 2015. Today's economic diary sees the release of the CBI industrial order expectations survey and this will be followed in the US with the latest weekly jobless claims, the Philly Fed manufacturing index and existing home sales data. Commodity prices are mixed and on the foreign exchanges, the dollar is lower against the major currencies.

Company Announcements


Full Year Results see underlying PBT rise 11.8% to GBP695.2m on revenue ahead 5.4% at GBP3.74bn. Next Directory sales rose 12.4% and the dividend is raised 22.9% to 129p a share. In February it paid a 50p special dividend and another special dividend of the same amount will be paid in May. It also provided guidance for the year ahead and is budgeting total Next brand sales growth of between 4%-8% with PBT in the range of GBP730m-GBP770m, adding that notwithstanding the continued pressure on the UK consumer, it anticipates another year of growth for Next.

Crest Nicholson

IMS reports open market reservation rates over the period between November 2013 to 7 March 2014 rose 13% on the equivalent period a year ago to 0.86 per outlet week. Forward sales for 2014 and beyond total GBP330m, a 50% rise on the same time a year ago. It noted that increasing sales volumes and rising open market average selling prices are combining to deliver strong growth in revenues. It added that against the backdrop of rising purchaser confidence, increasing mortgage approvals and generally improving economic conditions, it was well positioned to continue to drive business performance.

Majestic Wine

Trading Statement reports that although the 10 week Christmas trading period was 'satifactory' and it achieved lfl sales growth of 2.8%, it has experienced challenging trading conditions since the start of the 2014 calendar year. It now expects lfl sales to be flat for the full financial year with PBT to be broadly in line with the previous year. In addition, it is to invest in its infrastructure and these costs mean that it now anticipates a flatter growth profile in the 2015 financial year.