Despite a fresh intraday US high yesterday Asian markets were a mixed bag today: the Nikkei slipped more than -0.35%, in part due to dollar volatility; Australian and South Korean markets saw modest falls with shares in Sydney close to a month low.
Chinese banking stocks got a fillip from officials claiming illegal lending – so-called ‘shadow’ banking – won't be tolerated. The Shanghai Composite ended +0.37% higher at 3,445.41.
The Carillion disaster has now started to focus Whitehall minds on the future of other contractors. This morning the FT reported that a team of Cabinet officials are looking closely at Interserve which employs 80,000. Interserve issued a profit warning early last autumn and, like Carillion, is spread widely across UK public services in various support roles.
“Ministers are very worried about Interserve, but the team is small and low-key as they are not wanting to unsettle,” one official told the FT. Interserve’s share price has oscillated wildly, up +21% in the last week but -49% down in the last six months.
Shortly after 7am sterling was -0.2% down at 1.3768 while the dollar was up more than +0.40% against the yen and Swiss franc. The euro was -0.14% lower against the pound at 0.8878.
- UK FTSE 100 7,755.93 -0.17%
- DAX 13,246.33 +0.35%
- CAC 40 5,513.82 +0.07%
- Euro Stoxx 600 398.35 +0.51%
- Dow 25,792.86 -0.04%
- S&P 500 2,776.42 -0.35%
- Nasdaq 7,223.69 -0.51%
- Nikkei 23,868.34 -0.35%
- Gold 1,335.30 -0.13%
Burberry Q3 sales slip
Fashion titan Burberry reported a +2% climb in like-for-like sales for the three months to December this morning though overall total sales slipped -2%, not helped by a fall-off in sales on home turf: British sales were down by a "high single digit" admitted Burberry.
But the thrust of Burberry’s message was no change to estimated 2018 operating profits – guidance unchanged. Fashion performed strongly, Burberry claims, overall.
"We are making good progress,” said CEO Marco Gobbetti, “embedding our strategic vision into the organisation and remain on track to meet our full year profit target. We are building on strong foundations and are fully focussed on the successful delivery of our multi-year plan.”
Pearson ups profit guidance
Pearson, owner of Longman and Penguin, has issued stronger annual operating profit guidance of £600-605m compared to £576-606m guidance from October. However total underlying revenues are down -2% not helped by a -4% dip in the North American market.
“Our restructuring programme is on track,” says CEO John Fallon, “and our 2017 performance has set us up well to make further progress against our strategic priorities and grow profit in 2018."
Pearson offloaded its English-language teaching business last year for around $300m in an attempt to re-engineer its business. Its shares at 698.60p are more than -2.5% down in the last week and -11% lower for the full year.
Breaking news: Barclays has fine-tuned its UK inflation forecast. "We now forecast headline CPI inflation to average 2.6% in 2018, 0.1pp stronger than our previous projection, while we continue to expect it to soften to 2.2% (as before) as energy base effects kick in."