A rash of UK results today including Primark (good sales showing) from owner ABF; more below. Supported by more US gains yesterday the Japanese Nikkei topped 24,000 overnight. There was strong showings from Screen Holdings Co and Advantest Corp plus tech company Rohm; the Nikkei closed however -0.44% lower at 23,763.
Chinese bank share prices also gave a strong showing with the Shanghai Composite up +0.50%. Chinese fourth quarter economic growth figures emerge later today.
Following sustained weakness over the week the US dollar picked up, helped by mutterings from the ECB over the strength of the euro; at close to 7am however the spot dollar price was 90.74, down -0.14%. The pound was up +0.03% overnight at 1.3831 while slipping -0.09% against the euro.
In the US Apple is to spend more than $30bn on its US operations while ploughing $38bn back into the US tax base as it repatriates profits, part-addressing a long period of hoarding money overseas. It’s thought Apple still has around $250bn in cash held abroad. The move comes on the back of President Trump’s tax code changes.
- UK FTSE 100 7,725.43 -0.39%
- DAX 13,183.96 -0.47%
- CAC 40 5,493.99 -0.36%
- Euro Stoxx 600 397.97 -0.10%
- Dow 26,115.65 +1.25%
- S&P 500 2,802.56 +0.94%
- Nasdaq 7,298.28 +1.03%
- Nikkei 225 23,763.37 -0.44%
- Gold 1,327.80 -0.86%
- Oil WTI 64.00 +0.05%
Primark Christmas sales strengthen
Primark owner ABF says group revenues climbed +4% compared to the same 16-week period (to 6 January) last year. Primark sales were +7% up driven by increased retail selling space, ABF says. There was strong UK like-for-like sales growth and “good trading” for the five weeks up to Christmas.
However ABF's sugar revenues are -12% down. “A revenue and profit reduction greater than previously forecast,” ABF says, “is now expected for the full year primarily as a result of significantly lower EU sugar prices, which adversely affected our UK and Spanish businesses.”
News from Royal Mail which claims it had a decent Christmas: though letter volumes were -5% down overall revenues for the last nine months are up +2% while parcel volumes are up +6%.
"Given our performance to date, we expect to see broadly similar volume and revenue trends in UK parcels and letters for the full year as in the nine months," said Royal Mail.
Whitbread worries on UK confidence
Some concern for Costa owner Whitbread. Crucial like-for-like Costa sales are down -0.1% while Premier Inn reported flat sales growth for the 13 weeks to 30 November. The FTSE 100 company did report +6.9% sales growth for Costa for the third quarter compared to the same period last year but the figures are stallling in real terms.
"Performance declined," says Whitbread, "in traditional high street stores reflecting weakening footfall, with trading on the high street expected to remain subdued in the near term."
Whitbread remains cautious on UK prospects for the next year. “We do expect the tough UK high street environment and inflation in our sector to continue to pose challenges in the year ahead.” Whitbread shares at 3,848.00p are down -1% in the last week and are almost -5% down over the last year.
Breaking news: The Chinese economy expanded +6.9% in 2017, beyond the government’s +6.5% target. Euro area inflation for 2017 ends on a weak note: "Final consumer prices for December confirmed our expectation," says Barclays, "that underlying price pressures remain subdued…core prices continue to struggle to embark on a solid upward trend".