Thursday, 17th August: The FTSE’s gains came to an end as they opened 0.27% lower due to uncertainty surrounding US interest rates. At the bottom was Kingfisher, parent of the household solution store B&Q. During the early hours of trading, the group was down almost 4% after releasing a trading update for Q2 which revealed like-for-like sales in the UK & Ireland were down 1.0%, and in France were down 3.8%. B&Q in particular had a tough time, with like-for-like sales down 4.7% which was worse than expected. The majority of this was pinned down to a drop in demand for seasonal items such as barbeques and garden furniture.
Another familiar household name for Brits, which is doing a bit better than B&Q, is Asda, who have finally pushed through a sluggish period of declining sales and have reported their first underlying sales growth in three years. Amongst the four largest supermarket brands in the UK, which also include the likes of Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, Asda has been injured the most by the smaller discounters from Germany, Aldi & Lidl. Multiple factors allowed the grocery store to pull this off, including a weaker comparative in the previous year, food price inflation across the industry, and a sharpening of prices in vital areas like fresh meat and vegetables.
America seems to be following the UK’s path down jobless lane, as they also reported favourable jobless figures today. They have recorded the second-lowest weekly reading since 1973, a decline of 12,000 to 232,000. However, industrial production increased marginally, and lower than expected. Economists predicted an increase of 0.3%, but weren’t necessarily disappointed by an actual increase of 0.2%. Strong mining and utility outputs were slightly outweighed by an unsteady factory output.
The FTSE struggled to pick themselves back up in the afternoon after a week of highs, with Kingfisher firmly seated at the bottom of the index for the entirety of the day, trading 4.10% lower at 294p at the close. The FTSE closed down 0.61% at 7388.