M&S Earmarked for Makeover

Wednesday, May 23: The FTSE 100 started the day in the red, following a red trading session in Asia as Trump alluded to a potential backtracking on trade agreements. The FTSE 100 closed -1.13% as miners fell in relation to coal price intervention in China, despite a weaker than expected UK inflation read which sent sterling 0.28% lower against the dollar.

The headline rate of CPI inflation fell to a one-year low of 2.4% in April, from 2.5% in March as cheaper air fares, food and men’s clothing restricted growth in prices relative to the prior year. Cheaper air fares were the largest factor as Easter fell  early, and traditionally airlines would increase prices for the holiday in April. The figure underwhelmed the market once more and the sterling sell-off continued. The April read was the second inflation data point which has proved to be a headwind regarding a potential interest rate increase compounding the case for a cautious rate rise schedule, especially when paired with a weak GDP number last month.

M&S(+3.61%) moved higher as the retailer issued a drop in full year profit but revenue growth and kept its final dividend steady at 11.9p. Adjusted pretax profit, before exceptional items fell 5.4% to £580.9m, due to a fall in gross profit margin and higher operating costs. While the results could have inspire malaise from investors, they were seemingly encouraged by its forthright attitude to trading as management realise it urgently had to modernise or risk fading away.

Britvic(+7.37%) climbed higher after shrugging off poor weather in the U.K. to report a 4.5% increase in revenue, despite experiencing a dip in pretax profit to £41.8m from £50.1m last year due to increased restructuring costs of £21.6m in the period. Management lifted the interim dividend 9.7% to 7.9p from 7.2p, though noted it was too soon to guide on the likely impact of the UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy, but early indicators had panned out as expected.

Across Europe, indices were down at the close with the FTSE 100 -1.13%, the DAX 30 -1.47% and the CAC 40 -1.32%.

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