Some criss-crossing for the euro-dollar pair overnight as market watchers eye the ECB policy-setting meeting later. Will the ECB finally scale back its month-on-month €60bn stimulus program, paving the way for a possible rate rise?
At 7am the euro was down -0.16% at $1.1510 while sterling was settled at $1.3026. The US dollar spot price was slightly up at 94.90. Meanwhile trade talks in Washington between China and the US have ended without an agreement. Not even a scheduled press conference followed. The lack of progress will exert more pressure on the Trump administration.
Still, better earnings boosted Wall Street last night with all three main indexes edging all-time highs. The Dow finished at 21,640 last night with the Nasdaq at 6,385.04.
- UK FTSE 100 7,430.91 +0.55%
- Dow 21,640.75 +0.31%
- S&P 500 2,473.83 +0.54%
- Nasdaq 6,385.04 +0.64%
- Nikkei 225 20,152.48 +0.66%
- DAX 12,452.05 +0.71%
- CAC 40 5,216.07 +0.83%
- Gold 1,237.40 -0.35%
- Oil WTI 47.10 -0.04%
Sports Direct profits tumble on Brexit lurch
We start with an annual 59% pre-tax profit drop at Sports Direct. Profits land at £113.7m compared to £275.2m last year. Much of the profit hit can be blamed on the plummeting value of sterling following the Brexit vote and the consequent store prices catch-up.
Sports Direct revenues rose almost 12% however to £3.25bn. The sportswear operator has hired a new chief financial officer, Jon Kempster, formerly finance head at UK logistics player Wincanton.
“Sports Direct is on course to become the Selfridges of sport,” claims boss Mike Ashley, “by migrating to a new generation of stores to showcase the very best products from our third party brand partners."
He went on: "We have invested over £300m in property over the last year, and I am pleased to report that early indications show that trading in our new flagship stores is exceeding expectations.”
Profits upgraded at easyJet
We take to the air briefly: easyJet says total revenues per seat increased 2.2% ahead of guidance and were up 5.9% on a reported basis to £57.78 per seat. Passenger numbers carried is upped 10.8% to 22.3m.
Headline profit before tax guidance for the full year now comes in at £380-420m, better than originally predicted. Outgoing boss Carolyn McCall says product and digital innovation is generating revenue growth. “Our underlying cost control is strong, while our investment in resilience is delivering results in our operational performance.”
However easyJet has scrambled the hunt for a new CEO to replace McCall who switches to the top job at ITV. Royal Mail boss Moya Greene was already scheduled to join the board but the FT reports this has been accelerated; Greene joins easyJet immediately. The move has not gone down well with unions, citing Greene's existing Royal Mail pressures.
Breaking news: Bank of Japan pushes back its 2% inflation target to 2020.