Thursday, June 6: the FTSE 100(-0.41%) was weighed lower by a number of ex-dividend companies, despite a lift from Associated British Foods and Novae. FOMC minutes released last night were indicative of a stalemate between members as to whether balance sheet normalisation should begin within a couple of months or be deferred until later, permitting the opportunity to evaluate the outlook for economic activity and inflation. The minutes did little to move US or Asian markets over night, or here in Europe today. However, ECB minutes that suggested policy makers considered dropping a pledge to accelerate their bond-buying programme had more of an effect on Europe, with all major indices lower and an anticipatory sell off in bonds, despite rising geopolitical tensions in Asia. We await the release of US non-farm payroll job numbers tomorrow, but today’s US ISM Non-manufacturing PMI read beat street expectations of 56.5, and increased from 56.9 in May. The figure for June came in at 57.4, indicative of a pick-up in activity across service-sector industries.
Associated British Foods(+2.66%), the food, ingredients and retail company reported operating performance significantly ahead of management expectations for its third quarter rendering it one of the better performers in the FTSE 100. A strong profit performance from Primark coupled with the recent depreciation of sterling lifted sales higher to benefit the Group. On a constant currency basis, sales were 10% higher than the 40 week period ended June 24th the year before, and 20% ahead in actual exchange rate terms. For the third quarter alone, revenue growth on the same basis was 13% higher. This progress has marginally improved the company’s full-year outlook, as the Primark’s strong third quarter lifts margin expectation for Primark.
Across Europe, indices were lower at the close with the FTSE 100 -0.41%, the DAX 30 -0.58% and the CAC 40 -0.53%.