Thursday saw the FTSE 100 exit at 7,248.10, a rise of close to 0.2% with BA owner IAG and travel player TUI fuelling the lift. Also, HSBC whose 19% profits fall was not as bad as widely feared. HSBC shares pushed 2.8% higher.
Gold moved 0.58% up to $1,223.20. Both Brent and WTI oil slipped back on Thursday with Brent sinking under $49 a barrel (current price $47.27), a five-month low. US oil production continues to surge say analysts though, globally, inventories are looking more balanced.
The pound trades at 1.292, down 0.01% against the dollar with the euro at 1.1764.
The big news this morning is a new boss for Marks & Spencer. M&S have appointed ex Asda group executive Archie Norman as chairman. Norman, also ex-chairman of ITV, moves to M&S on 1 September, succeeding Robert Swannell.
Retail veteran Norman has UK retail experience covering Energis, Kingfisher and Asda. The former Conservative MP was appointed lead non-executive board member of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy last year.
It’s understood M&S had several candidates. Norman has come close to being named as Tesco chairman not to mention Sainsbury’s in the past. Steve Rowe replaced Marc Bolland as M&S chief exec a year ago. M&S’ share price remains more than 15% down at 357p over the last 12 months.
We move onto Intercontinental Hotels (shares up almost 15% YTD at 4,166p). Group RevPAR (revenue per available room) is up 2.7% and occupancy up 1.2% says the company. In Europe RevPAR proved especially buoyant, up 6.9% compared to 1.9% from the Americas.
The shift in timing of Easter out of Q1 had a positive impact, especially in the Americas and Europe, which InterContinental Hotels expected to reverse in Q2 it says.
“Despite the uncertain economic and political environment in some markets,” said boss Richard Solomons, “we remain confident in the outlook for 2017 and our ability to deliver sustainable growth into the future.”
Solomons meanwhile is to quit on 30 June; chief commercial officer Keith Barr will take his place.
We end with surgical and medical instrument maker Smith & Nephew. The first quarter 2017 sees 3% underlying revenue growth but revenues remain flat at $1,142m.
Emerging markets returned to double digit growth says the company with revenues up 13% on a reported basis and 12% on an underlying.
Smith & Nephew claims it’s on-track to deliver 3-4% underlying revenue growth for the full year. Its shares are up 4% YTD at 1,260p.