Wednesday, March 21: oil continued to climb higher overnight due to tensions in the Middle East and the likelihood of further declines in Venezuelan crude output, lending support to oil majors on London’s primary index. However, this was not enough to stop it closing in the red(-0.32%) as retailers and strong sterling mitigated oil-derived gains.
Kingfisher(-7.52%) announced that fiscal 2018 pretax profit fell 10% despite a mixed performance in the markets in which it operates. The DIY retailer noted “solid growth” at ScrewFix in the UK and in the Poland market, though this was offset by continued weaker sales in France due to a product availability. For the financial year ending Jan. 31 Kingfisher made a profit of £682.0m compared with £759.0m in the year earlier, as revenue rose to £11.66bn from £11.23bn. The FTSE 100 listed company raised the final dividend to 7.49p from 7.15p per share, raising the full year dividend up to 10.80p from 10.40p.
The UK’s latest employment data propelled sterling higher against both the dollar(+0.39%) and euro(+0.35%) as average earnings for the three months to January were recorded 2.6% higher, +2.8% including bonuses. This proved to be the fastest rate of increase in over two years, spurring traders to believe that the likelihood of a Bank of England interest rate rise in May is now more likely. Unemployment for the same period was sustained at 4.3%, as the number of unemployed was marginally higher at +24,000.
Across Europe, indices were mixed at the close with the FTSE 100 -0.32%, the DAX 30 +0.01% and the CAC 40 -0.24%.