Market report

FTSE 100 higher for fifth week | retail footfall down sharply


5pm: London ends week on a high

London’s blue chip FTSE 100 index ended the session 117.75 points higher at 7,669.56, to mark a fifth straight week of closing ahead, with commodities, healthcare and financial companies leading the charge.

Anglo American advanced 4.8%, Endeavour Mining 3.1% and Glencore gained 2.6%. While, Standard Chartered added 3.0%, Barclays 2.9%, and abrdn closed up 2.4%.

Oil majors were also higher as energy prices rose following a new round of sanctions imposed on Russia. Brent was quoted at $101.33 a barrel on Friday evening, up from $99.08 a barrel on Thursday.

Shell advanced 3.9% and BP gained 3.7%.

2.30pm: Wall Street stocks opened lower

1pm: Russia sinks

Russia is heading for its deepest recession since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90s.

Its GDP is expected to contract by between 8.5% and 15% as sanctions continue to hit the nation.

Nearly £275bn, or 60%, of its foreign currency reserves are frozen, hampering its ability to support its own economy, according to estimates.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says: “Our unprecedented package of sanctions is hitting the elite and their families, while degrading the Russian economy on a scale Russia hasn’t seen since the fall of the Soviet Union.”

Noon: Vodafone and Sky in TalkTalk speculation

Vodafone could be interested in buying broadband provider TalkTalk, which is being put up for sale only two years after being taken private.

Toscafund, the owner of TalkTalk, has received “tentative approaches” about a possible £3bn deal, Sky News has reported, with Sky itself also said to be in the running as a potential suitor.

9.30am: Blue chips soar

The FTSE 100 soared 86.43 points to 7,638.24 in early trade, making up for the losses earlier in the week and touching its highest point in almost two months.

Commodities firms and financials led the charge, while BP was up 2.84%, and Shell 2.68% higher, despite a fall in crude prices.

Bank shares were led by Standard Chartered, up 3.4%, and Barclays, 2.7% higher.

6am: Retail footfall

Footfall in shopping areas continues to be a fifth down on pre-pandemic levels, with the latest data reflecting cost of living rises and Scotland’s slower re-opening rate and greater willingness to work from home.

To make meaningful comparisons to changes in footfall, all figures compiled by the Scottish Retail Consortium are compared to their pre-pandemic (2019) levels.

  • Scottish footfall decreased by 21.1% in March (Yo3Y), 0.5 percentage points better than February. This is worse than the UK average decline of 15.4% (Yo3Y). Scotland again saw the steepest decline in footfall of all UK nations. 
  • Shopping Centre footfall declined by 32.0% in March (Yo3Y) in Scotland, an improvement on the decline of 34.7% in February. 

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said:  “There was a miniscule uptick in shopper footfall last month as Scots only very gradually returned to retail destinations.

“However, the blunt truth is footfall continues to languish a fifth down on pre-pandemic levels. Visits to shopping centres and Glasgow city centre improved a touch, however Scotland as a whole continued to lag other parts of the UK. This was despite the loosening of stultifying Covid related restrictions in stores during the month.

“These stark figures should lead to a sharper response from policy makers as to the health of our retail destinations. There is an urgent need to bring energy and vision to the revival of our retail and high street destinations and actively encourage people to return.

“Promises over recent days of a return to city centres visitor campaign and the cash disbursed to councils to aid city centre recovery need to be deployed swiftly, to help generate the footfall that is so desperately needed.” 

Global markets

US indices closed the day in credit despite more hawkish commentary from the Federal Reserve on interest rates. The Dow Jones advanced 0.3% while the broader-based S&P 500 also climbed.

In Asia this morning, markets are in retreat. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 is down 6 points and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is off 125 points.

Oil prices drifted lower and were set to drop around 3% for the week as consuming countries’ planned release of 240 million barrels from emergency stocks offset some concerns over reduced supplies from Russia due to western sanctions.

Brent crude futures edged lower by 55 cents, or 0.6% to $100.03 a barrel at 0403 GMT after gaining more than $1 in the early morning.

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures lost 34 cents, or 0.4%, to $95.67 a barrel.

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