The FTSE 100 finished at 7,234.53 at close of Wednesday while the Dow ended the day at 20,957.9, up eight points. Gold was down -0.99% to $1,236.40 while WTI oil finished -0.42% lower at $47.63.
Currency-wise, the pound is trading (7am) at $1.2875 against the dollar and €1.182 against the euro. Over in Hong Kong, banking titan HSBC has reported a 19% slump in profits for the first quarter of 2017. However HSBC shares are up around 1.5% so far on the news.
Facebook has reported first-quarter profits of more than $3bn, a 76% hike year-on-year though its share price eased on the news to $148.12, down 2.4%, as investors fretted about future earnings. Next sales slip
Plenty happening on the FTSE 100 company front: we start with a trading statement from Next. Full price sales for the thirteen weeks to Saturday 29 April are down -3.0% says the high street retailer. Total sales, including markdown sales, slip -2.5%.
Next, whose share price is down -11.1% YTD at 4,411p, warned the market back in March that full price sales for the first quarter would edge towards the lower end of the full year guidance range of +2.5% to -3.5% – so no surprises here.
But the grim mood is clear. “The UK consumer environment,” Next said in a statement, “remains challenging, particularly in the clothing and homeware markets, and real wage growth is now close to zero.” Its total full price sales upper guidance slumps from 2.5% to 0.5%.
Morrisons sales push higher
Next, we grab a Morrisons trolley. For the 13 weeks to 30 April like-for-like Morrisons sales excluding fuel surged 3.4%. Including fuel sales this figures pushes up to 6.3%. Morrisons acknowledge some price inflation as imported food prices were hit by lower sterling.
"We are confident,” says Morrisons boss David Potts, “we will continue to turnaround and grow Morrisons. Our expectations and guidance for 2017/18 are unchanged, including year-end net debt of less than £1bn."
Potts claims Morrisons performed strongly during Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Easter. ‘The Best’ line performed strongly.
Yesterday the supermarket snipped diesel by 2p and petrol 1p across its 333 filling stations. Morrisons shares have climbed 2.4% to 240.11p in the last five days.
Surer of Shell
We finish with strong Shell numbers. First quarter profits for the FTSE 100 oil player came in at $3.8bn compared to $1.6bn this time last year, helped by rising oil prices. Debt is also down.
“We saw notable improvements in Upstream and Chemicals,” says Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, “which benefited from improved operational performance and better market conditions. Our operations in Qatar are restarting during the second quarter.”
Beurden says Shell expects to investing $25bn this year in new projects plus generate $10bn in cashflow from operating activities by 2018. Oil companies are under extreme pressure to show efficiency savings while oil’s narrow trading range remains.