Friday, January 19: the FTSE 100 closed(+0.39%) in the green for the first time this week, led higher by easyjet(+4.63%) following a broker upgrade from Morgan Stanley, as little other news flow influenced the primary index.
Dignity(-48.83%) proved to be the largest faller on the FTSE 350 as it issued a profit warning to the market. The funeral service provider announced it is anticipating substantially lower profits in 2018 as a result of price reductions for funerals in the face of increasing competition. As part of a broader review, Dignity will reduce the average price of its simple funerals by a quarter in order to claw back market share and reposition the Group for future growth. Results for the year ended December 29 are expected to be in line with expectations.
UK retail data was illustrative of a steep fall in sales for the month of December, indicating spending by UK consumers was pared back after taking advantage of Black Friday discounts the previous month. The ONS estimated sales fell by 1.50% compared with the previous month, nearly double the decline anticipated by analysts polled by The Wall Street Journal. The fall followed a 1.00% monthly increase in November, driven by Black Friday discounts as well as Britons’ early Christmas purchases, government statisticians said. The overall picture continues to be a trend of lower consumption in the UK following the decision to leave the EU.
HSBC(-0.40%) slipped into the red after announcing it is to pay $100m, after entering into a deferred prosecution agreement in which it agreed to pay a $63.1m criminal penalty and $38.4m in disgorgement and restitution to resolve charges that it engaged in a scheme to defraud two bank clients through a multi-million dollar scheme commonly known as “front-running”.
Across Europe, indices were higher at the close with the FTSE 100 +0.39%, the DAX 30 +1.15% and the CAC 40 +0.58%.