Updated: Fri, 17th Feb. 07:28:29
(ShareCast News) - London stocks were set for a muted open on Friday as investors await the release of retail sales figures.
The FTSE 100 was expected to open unchanged at 7,278.
CMC Markets' Michael Hewson said: "When December's UK retail sales numbers came out there was some puzzlement as to why they were so poor given that in the week leading up to the release a stream of retailers had put out some fairly positive trading updates, for the pre and post-Christmas period.
"There were some exceptions, clothing retailer Next being the most notable with yet another profits warning, so it was a surprise when we saw a 1.9% decline, a number which almost wiped out the entire quarter's positive trading. Since then we've seen inflationary pressures increase in the latest January inflation data, and the most recent wages data up to December has shown some signs of softening, even though the labour market continues to hold up well.
"This might suggest that we could well see a weak January UK retail sales number when the latest numbers are released later this morning, particularly since last week's British Retail consortium January sales numbers showed a decline of 0.6%. Even so it has to be said that it's not always a good leading indicator given that we saw is post a 1% gain for December, the complete opposite of the ONS numbers."
Expectations for the numbers - due at 0930 GMT - are for a rise of 0.9% on the month and a 3.4% drop on an annualised basis.
In corporate news, AstraZeneca reported positive results from its Phase III OLYMPIAD trial of its breast cancer treatment Lynparza (olaparib).
Patients treated with Lynparza showed a statistically-significant and clinically-meaningful improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) compared with those who received chemotherapy (capecitabine, vinorelbine or eribulin).
Manufacturer Morgan Advanced Materials will sell its Europe-based rotary transfer systems business to Moog, a US manufacturer of motion and fluid control systems, for about 40m on a cash and debt free basis.
The sale is in line with the FTSE 250 company's strategy to simplify its portfolio and focus on global technology businesses of scale, while the rotary business for Moog will complement its European presence in the motion control manufacturing market.
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels posted its final results for the 2016 calendar year on Friday, with group revenue per available room (RevPAR) increasing by 6.6% to £76.71.
Total revenue in reported currency for 2016 grew by £79m or 9.3% to £926m, although in constant currency, revenue was flat indicating that exchange translation contributed £79m to total reported revenue.
Essentra posted better-than-expected full-2016 fiscal year earnings per share while keeping its dividend flat, with the latter as expected.
EPS came in at 36.3p compared to consensus of 35.6p, with the annual dividend steady at 20.7p.
During the year, the supplier of plastic and fibre products made three profit warnings, driven by tough conditions in its Health & Personal Care Packaging unit and short-term issues at its Filter Products arm.
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They say “breaking up is hard to do” but in financial market break-ups spinoffs can be very profitable and give companies a new lease of life.
A spinoff is the creation of an independent company or in some cases more than one company through the sale or distribution of new shares of an existing listed company to shareholders holding the parent company at a certain date.
Three years ago I came up with the concept for a investment-focused podcast for the ShareTalk website I work on, called Conkers' Corner after my Twitter handle of @conkers3, and five months ago the first recording was made. Below are some of the lessons I have learned or have been reinforced during these years.
The concept of Conkers' Corner is very simple yet extremely educational and beneficial for all: the participants in the podcasts and interviews since I started in May 2016 have included shrewd investors/traders, ISA millionaires, high net worth individuals, business leaders, CEOs, highly respected fund managers and investment writers.
There’s a great debate in the financial industry about which type of analysis produces the best results for traders - is it better to be a technical trader or to rely on the fundamentals?
Is there a common ground between the two? We’ve all heard the phrase All roads lead to Rome. In this article we’ll explore whether this applies to the financial markets.
Graham Spooner, investment research analyst at the Share Centre, picks three top shares among the most popular purchases by equities clients in the last seven days.