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Inflation spooks market; retail weakens; Commsworld update

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4.30pm: Inflation spooks investors

The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.56% at 6,710.90 as investors digested a rise in inflation.

Sterling fell 0.4% against the dollar to $1.3847, while gaining 0.14% on the euro at €1.15.

9.45am: Commsworld enjoys buoyant quarter

Commsworld, the independent network provider, has reported “one of the best quarters in its 27-year history”.

The Edinburgh-headquartered company secured contracts valued at more than £16.7m across multiple sectors, significantly beating its targets between October and December last year.

Chief commercial officer Charles Quinn said: “Already we are enjoying an excellent start to 2021. There are plenty of new markets for us to explore.”

9am: Ventilation firm goes employee-owned

Dunfermline-based ventilation company Sustainable Homes Scotland, trading as Paul Heat Recovery Scotland, has announced that is converting to an employee-owned businesses in Scotland, with 12 staff given a stake in the business. 

8.30am: London opens lower

London shares fell at the open with the FTSE 100 trading at 6,722.78, down 26.08 points (0.39%)

7am: Inflation slightly higher

The cost of living rose by 0.7% in the year to January, slightly more than expected as the country was plunged into another lockdown.

Food prices pushed up costs, along with household goods. The rise was slightly higher than many economists’ forecasts of 0.6%.

Rio Tinto 

The Anglo-Australian mining group delivered a record dividend to shareholders as soaring iron ore prices last and demand from China drove full-year profits sharply higher. The company reported a better-than-expected 20% increase in underlying profit to $12.4bn and declared a total dividend of $5.57 a share against expectations of $4.80.

British American Tobacco 

The conglomerate said its adjusted profit from operations was 4.8% higher in 2020 at £11.37bn. The board proposes a dividend of 215.6p per share for the year ended 31 December, up 2.5%.

Retail sales slump

empty shops in Glasgow

Scottish shops reported their worst monthly performance since April, and the worst January results on record.

New figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) showed total sales fell year-on-year by almost 28%.

Food sales rose by 4.3% but non-food slumped by more than half, as non-essential shops were forced to close during the first week of the year.

KPMG UK head of retail Paul Martin said: “Poor weather has exacerbated the issues, creating a perfect storm, with a total decline of almost 30% representing the worst figures we’ve seen since April last year.”

The Scottish Retail Consortium welcomed the three months extension of business rates relief, though its report was issued before Finance Secretary Kate Forbes announced that rates relief would be extended for the whole of next year. The Scottish Property Federation was disappointed by a lack of action on empty properies.

Read more: Businesses cheer as no rates to pay for next year

Markets

Brent crude continued to edge higher, up 0.3% to $63.54 a barrel, adding to three days of gains.

There was a mixed performance on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up 0.2% at a record high while the S&P 500 dropped 0.06% and the Nasdaq fell 0.34%.

Asia also offered a muddled picture with Japan’s Nikkei 225 falling 0.58% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.99%.



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