The Office of National Statistics claims July retail sales picked up 0.3% compared with June. However celebrations are short-lived as the ONS had to slash June’s figure from 0.6% to 0.3%. Also, the UK July sales picture was strong in food but bereft of real strength in almost all other consumer spending areas. Behind the headline figure lies considerable retail frailty, still.
Earlier, concern from the European Central Bank on the strength of the euro. Anxiety lurked “about a possible overshooting in the re-pricing by financial markets, notably the foreign exchange markets, in the future,” the ECB minutes noted, published this morning.
The ECB frankness sent the euro lower. At 4pm the European area currency was down -0.22% at $1.1740 while the pound was at $1.2885. However the dollar also got a midday wobble after rumours – quickly sat on by the White House – that Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, was quitting.
- UK FTSE 100 7,396 -0.61%
- Dow 21,910.34 -0.52%
- S&P 500 2,453.45 -0.59%
- Nasdaq 6,290.83 -0.87%
- Nikkei 225 19,702.63 -0.14%
- DAX 12,206.65 -0.47%
- CAC 40 5,147.08 -0.57%
- Gold 1,288 +0.47%
- Oil WTI 47.01 +0.49%
Asda delivers surprise Q2 sales growth
Asda reported positive like-for-like sales growth for the second quarter earlier today. The news saw Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s shares dip more than 1% each.
The Walmart-owned grocery player has been plagued by falling sales for the last three years. So the 1.8% sales uptick was much needed though Asda boss Sean Clarke acknowledges “we know we need to continue to up our game to be in the best shape possible”.
Much of the sales turnaround was down to a solid Easter with sales up 16% though some recent sterling-related weakness price rises would have also helped. However Asda still remains highly vulnerable from smaller, nimbler rivals such as Lidl and Aldi.
Top Shop boss switch
On the high street Top Shop is seeing a change of personnel: creative director Kate Phelan goes to be replaced by ex Vogue art director David Hagglund. Top Man boss Gordon Richardson is also on the way out.
Profits at Top Shop owner Arcadia sank by close to 80% last year thanks to increasingly sharper bricks-and-mortar and online competition, plus BHS related complications.
Meanwhile oil prices have picked up with Brent crude up 1.07% to $50.81 while WTI crude saw a 0.49% climb top $47.01.
Tonight the FTSE 100 closed down more than 36 points at 7,396 not helped by a plunge in the shares of Screwfix and B&Q owner Kingfisher, down more than 4%. However miner Fresnillo saw its shares improve by almost 4% to £15.67 thanks to better precious metal values including gold. Standard Chartered shares were also under pressure, down 2.72%. Admiral Group shares also lost strength, down 2.3%.