This morning’s session across Europe began very subdued, with a lack of major overnight events, earnings reports and data releases to stimulate markets. Asian shares were down slightly following a marginal decline in the oil price and again moderately negative session in the US on Wednesday.
At 09:30 UK retail figures were released; they showed strongest annual growth rate in a decade, with retail sales boosted by the cold weather. Shoppers wrapped up with winter clothing and supermarkets enjoyed an above average Halloween. Sales jumped 7.4% higher during October compared to a year earlier and on top of this online sales posted their strongest annual growth in five years. Although once again economists are expecting a slowdown next year as the devalued pound squeezes household incomes.
Royal Mail results didn’t deliver what investors were hoping, after stronger European performance wasn’t enough to stop a first half profit drop. The Group look to cut further costs and achieve a larger share of the parcel market to offset the decline in the letter market. Shares quickly dropped placing Royal Mail at the foot of the FTSE, where they remained for the entirety of the session, closing down 7%. Overall the post US election rally was evidently cooling and unwinding, with investors now over the initial scramble for opportunistic themes. US markets opened in a similarly sombre tone as investors watched Fed chair Janet Yellen speak. At the close the FTSE ended +0.67%.
Majestic Wine during the six months to September posted a pre-tax loss of £4.4m compared to a profit of £4.5m a year earlier. The retailer blamed a failed marketing campaign for its Naked Wine business, but LFL sales increased 5.7% during the period. Seemingly focused on sales rather than bottom line, they remain optimistic about the further scope for growth and shares finished the day 4.72% higher.
UK Chancellor Philip Hammond will deliver his autumn statement next week, with some estimating the new Chancellor will have to navigate a £80m-£100m hit from the Brexit. Morgan Stanley warns those expecting a fiscal stimulus as Hammond and May (Philip and Theresa not Richard and James) remain committed to reducing the deficit.