Tuesday, 14th August: To avoid being added to the worrying list of British store groups which have went into administration, Homebase owner Hilco Capital revealed on Tuesday their plans to close 42 stores which will consequently put 1,500 jobs at risk across Britain and Ireland, which will commence during the later part of 2018 and early 2019. Weak consumer spending, rising labour costs, higher business property tax and escalating online competition have all been contributing factors to not only Homebase, but multiple retail groups which have suffered in recent years.
On a slightly more positive note, fresh unemployment figures in the three months to June showed a decline to the lowest unemployment rate in more than 43 years to 4.0 per cent from April to June. However, this combined with a record number of job vacancies and pay growth slowing to its weakest in nine months takes the shine away from the unemployment news and paints a picture of a tight labour market.
Antofagasta felt the wrath of the market today and were trading more than 6.0% lower and at the bottom of the FTSE 100 in the afternoon after releasing their interim update which revealed a 16% decline in first half earnings as a result of higher costs and lower production. If the group are unable to follow through with full year expectations which they backed today as part of their interim update, they are more than likely to end up suffering on a much higher scale.
Royal Mail were also amongst the losers on the blue-chip index today following the news of them receiving a £50 million fine for breaching competition law, which is likely to have an unfavourable impact on current year earnings.
The FTSE 100 spent almost exactly half of the trading day in green territory, the first half of the day that is, and the second half in red. The index was unable to reverse the damage caused by the groups like the ones mentioned above, and ended the day 0.4% lower at 7611.