Next higher on UK retail resilience

Thursday, 23 March: Across the globe indices recovered from the selling of the last few days, as trade in gold stepped back from March highs and improving sentiment induced some to put a bit of risk on the table.

Next(+7.24%) was the largest mover in London today as the clothing retailer issued its results for the year ending January 2017. A fall in full year net profit was recorded, as management said they remain ‘extremely cautious’ for its current financial year as consumers spend a lower proportion of their income on clothing. Next said pretax profit fell to £790.2m from £836.1m the year before, as revenue remained broadly flat. The stock movement seems to defy logic then, though investors and analysts looking ahead acknowledge that retail margins are likely to come under pressure in the foreseeable future, but noted guidance for the new financial year is unchanged. Full-price sales are expected between a decline of 3.5% and growth of 2.5% year-on-year, while pretax profit is expected between £680-£780m representing another decline.

Marks & Spencer also received a leg up(+3.35%) on the same sentiment as investors and analysts saw a positive read across from Next’s results, whilst reasonable retail data also helped . The Office for National Statistics reported that UK retail sales rebounded in February following three consecutive months of decline, though the underlying trend remained weak. Sales in February grew by 1.4% over the previous month driven by sales across all categories, with household good performing particularly well. However sales in the three months through February fell by 1.4%, the fastest pace decline in nearly seven years. The retail data saw sterling appreciate just shy of fifty basis points against both the US dollar(+0.48%) and euro(+0.43%), lifting it to respective four and three week highs as the UK economy proved more resilient than expected.

Across Europe, indices were up as the FTSE 100 closed +0.22%, the DAX 30 +1.14%, and the CAC 40 +0.76%.

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