Friday, 28 April: During the morning session official UK growth figures were released, with the latest numbers reflecting rising inflation and a subsequent tightening in consumer spending. The UK economy grew by 0.3% over the first quarter and 2.2% on the year. This was below estimates of 0.4% quarterly growth and 2.4% on the year, and well below the final quarter of 2016’s growth rate of 0.7%. Inflationary pressures hit the retail sector as well as the (very important) British service sector across the board, UK construction also impacted on growth. The FTSE index and pound were relatively unchanged after the news broke, which kept the pound up against both the dollar and euro amongst others, whilst the FTSE lagged other European bourses.
London markets were kept lower from the strengthened pound and would’ve been much worse off if it had not been for the recovery in oil, up c.3% throughout today’s session taking it back above $52 p/bbl after flirting around the $50 p/bbl mark. RBS shares opened at the top of the FTSE after their latest results and remained there for the duration of the day, closing 4.74% higher. During the first quarter RBS posted a profit for the first time since Q3 2015. The healthy profit of £259m was a vast improvement on the £968m loss made a year earlier. The results are even more promising if the heavy burden of restructuring costs are removed, taking the level of ‘profit’ to £1.3bn. RBS notes the cost cutting plan is ahead of schedule for 2017, the same plan that was announced following the £7bn loss made from last year. This is a rare news piece for RBS of late, as it doesn’t contain any mention of fines or settlements and possibly marks the beginning of the large turnaround in progress at the bank. Management hope this is the last year that RBS make a loss and it could be the last year before the bank returns to being 100% privately owned after the government accepted they may / are willing to sell their stake for a loss.
Barclays also released results today, revealing they’d more than doubled profits in Q1. Pre tax profit was up to £1.682bn, with strong performance across the board the reason behind the success. Despite this, investors weren’t happy, bit harsh… and shares fell to the close, finishing 5.22% lower. But Barclays’ investors weren’t being divas, as the cost of writing down their African business actually halved net profit. Hang on, returning to RBS, they didn’t quite mange to go a whole day unscathed from the media. The NatWest banking app failed this morning (owned by RBS). The matter was quickly resolved and only affected payments for NatWest customers, despite other reports claiming Halifax and Lloyds customers’ accounts were also affected by the glitch. To reiterate though, your bank holiday shouldn’t be affected, so no need to panic.
Planning a lazy weekend for the bank holiday? Well soon your lazy weekend could become not just any weekend from the comfort of your own home… oh no, it could become an M&S weekend. What’s that? You’ve always wanted to be able to order Percy Pig sweets from your bed? Well now you can after M&S has announced it is to trial a home delivery service. Don’t get us wrong, from a business point of view this is an incredibly competitive and complex market. But…. now those adverts are only one click away from your plate (fist pumps)