The widely expected US interest rate rise went ahead last night. The US Federal Reserve raised rates to 1.25% from 1%, the highest level in nine years. The rate rise gave succour to the dollar initially, as investors were given reassurance of the longer-term confidence of the US economy.
However the US Special Counsel is looking at possible obstruction of justice concerns between Donald Trump and the firing of ex FBI boss James Comey. The news saw the dollar go defensive overnight. Just before 7am the euro was up 0.03% at $1.1217 while sterling was at $1.2745, down -0.04%.
Pressure on sterling will continue today with new UK retail sales data arriving at 9.30am, followed by a Bank of England interest rate decision at midday. The Dow Jones however finished 46 points up last night at 21,374.56, up 0.22%.
- UK FTSE 100 7,474.40 -0.35%
- Dow 21,374.56 +0.22%
- S&P 500 2,437.92 -0.10%
- Nasdaq 6,194.89 -0.41%
- Nikkei 225 19,831.82 -0.26%
- DAX 12,805.95 +0.32%
- CAC 40 5,243.29 -0.35%
- Gold 1,265.70 -0.80%
- Oil WTI 44.71 -0.04%
WS Atkins profits surge
Design and engineering consultancy WS Atkins released preliminary numbers this morning. Revenues climb 11.8% to £2,081.5m while underlying operating profit is up 15.7% to £171.5m.
Atkins claims strong UK and European performance with “significant growth from North America” while Middle Eastern performance is described as in line with expectations, despite some challenges.
“Our underlying operating margin continued to improve and we delivered revenue growth on a constant currency basis of 4.3%, underpinned by the acquisition of PP&T in 2016.” WS Atkins shares, at 2,072.20p, are up more than 60% in the last year.
PZ Cussons: full year performance looking solid
We move onto the maker of Imperial Leather and Original Source, PZ Cussons. Though final numbers for the year aren’t out till late July, PZ Cussons says UK sales have been robust from washing and bathing with good performance from beauty.
In the current tricky Nigerian market where PZ Cussons has a strong presence and history, personal care traded “relatively well” despite considerable consumer inflation pressure.
“Tight control of costs together with further margin improvement initiatives are successfully countering ongoing raw material and exchange rate volatility,” says PZ Cussons. “The Group's balance sheet remains strong and well placed to pursue new opportunities as they arise.”
Majestic Wine profits slip
Lastly, Majestic Wine says annual profits before tax have dipped to £12.9m compared to £15m last year. Sales are up 15.8% on a reported 53 week basis however, 11.4% on an underlying 52 week basis.
Majestic has reiterated its £500m sales goal by 2019. There’s a final dividend of 3.6 pence per share, total dividend of 5.1 pence for the year. At 384p Majestic’s share price is more than 18% down in the last 12 months.
“We remain confident," says Majestic Wine, "about the medium term outlook, despite tough economic conditions, as transformation benefits are coming through and our costs are naturally coming down as a result of us reaching the next stage of the transformation plan.”
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