Market report

SSE on course for record investment | retail setback

4.30pm: London picks up

“Despite another miserable showing on Wall Street last night, Friday saw a brighter end to the week for investors,” says Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

“European stocks pushed forward alongside a good showing from parts of Asia, including a 1.8% rise in Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index as investors bid up energy and internet stocks.

“The FTSE 100 was lifted by oil producers, miners, banks and utility companies. Investors noted price strength among major commodities which would support earnings for natural resources producers.

“Brent Crude oil rose by 1% to $87.02 per barrel while copper this week hit its highest level since June 2022 on hopes for an increase in demand linked to China’s reopening and amid low inventories.”

The FTSE 100 closed 23.3 points higher at 7,770.59.

SSE investment and dividend


Power company SSE said it remains on course to deliver record investment in excess of £2.5 billion in 2022/23.

Investment opportunities associated with net zero continue to accelerate, not least in SSE’s regulated networks businesses, it said in a third quarter trading update

Gregor Alexander, finance director, said: “Our fully funded £12.5bn Net Zero Acceleration Programme is progressing at pace as we build the renewables, networks and flexible energy assets needed for a cleaner, more secure energy system.

“SSE is performing well in a shifting and volatile energy landscape, underlining the strength of our balanced business mix and the quality of our assets, and we are well placed to deliver a strong financial performance for the full year.

“We are responding to the cost of living and energy crises by investing record amounts and remain committed to investing additional profit we make into critical low-carbon electricity infrastructure. By doing so, we are creating lasting value for SSE’s stakeholders, and society as a whole.”

The Perth-based company intends to recommend a full-year dividend of 85.7p per share plus RPI for 2022/23 followed by a rebase to 60p in 2023/24 to support the group’s investment and growth plans. The dividend is then expected to increase by at least 5% per annum in 2024/25 and 2025/26.

Retail setback

Shoppers cut their spending in December, according to government data which contrasts with figures produced by the Scottish Retail Consortium which claimed it had been a “sparkling” Christmas.

Retail sales volumes fell by 1% in December from November, the Office for National Statistics said.

Heather Bovill, the ONS’s deputy director for surveys and economic indicators, said: “Retail sales dropped again in December with feedback suggesting consumers cut back on their Christmas shopping due to affordability concerns.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Volumes fell for the ninth consecutive month as the cost of living squeeze caused consumers to rein in December spending. 

“The high cost of household bills, particularly for energy, and rising food inflation, made for a difficult Christmas backdrop with falling consumer confidence. Nonetheless, increased discounting helped boost gift giving, with stronger sales growth for clothing and furniture.

Global markets

Wall Street ended lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.8%, the S&P 500 down 0.8% and the Nasdaq Composite down 1.0%.

Sterling was quoted at $1.2375 early today.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index closed up 0.6% despite consumer prices in Japan hitting a multi-decade higher.

Japan’s central bank again opted to leave its ultra-easy monetary policy intact, bucking the trend set by peers abroad who have hiked rates to tackle rising prices.

In China, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.7%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was up 1.5%. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed up 0.2%

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