Thursday, 18th April: Unilever topped the FTSE 100 today despite reporting a 1.6% decline in reported revenue, largely due to the sale of its spread business which took place in late 2017. The market seemed to dismiss this and instead focus on the underlying sales growth of 3.1% which was led by the home care division which was up 6.0% on an underlying basis. The Q1 update was also backed up with the group reassuring the market that they are trading in line with expectations and have no doubt they will be able to achieve full year forecasts. The news allowed the share price to rise more than 3.0% in the morning and top the blue-chip index.
Something which defied forecasts today was retail data, which was expected to be down by 0.3% in March but was instead up by a surprising 1.1% in comparison to February, and making it the third month in a row that retail sales have been better than expected, suggested that Brits aren’t being scared off by Brexit after all.
Sterling started the day on a positive note as a result of the strong retail data but gradually began to weaken against the dollar towards the end of this short Easter week. During the second half of the day GBP/USD was down by more than 0.25% at c.$1.3005, pushing it back to a similar rate previously seen in February.
The blue-chip index struggled to hold onto gains achieved mid-week, but still managed to close 0.31% higher than Friday’s close last week. By the end of the day, the FTSE 100 closed 0.15% lower at 7459.88.