Market report

Pound higher on Sunak’s NI deal | Primark sales surge


4.30pm: Pound higher on Sunak deal

Sterling leaped by 0.7% to $1.20 and was 0.3% up at €1.14 as the markets responded positively to Britain and the EU agreeing a new post-Brexit deal for Northern Ireland.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen signed a breakthrough deal at a meeting in Windsor, Berkshire.

The FTSE 100 Index closed 56.45 points (0.72%) higher at 7,935.11, below the session peak of 7,949.97.

7am: Primark


Primark traded very well for the half year with total sales are expected to be £4.2bn, 19% ahead of the same period last year at actual exchange rates and 16% ahead at constant currency.

Adjusted operating profit margin for the half year is now expected to be above 8%.

It said trading has been good in all its markets, well ahead of expectations, and represents a material improvement in both the UK and Europe on the second half of our last financial year.

Trading in the UK was particularly strong and sales for the half year are expected to grow by 15% driven by an increase in like-for-like sales of 14%.

Primark’s share of the total UK clothing, footwear and accessories market by value, including online sales, was higher as a consequence, as evidenced by the latest 12 week data to 8 January 2023, which shows Primark’s market share continued to outperform, increasing from 6.3% last year to 6.8% this year. Footfall remains strong in major city centres as well as on high streets and retail parks.

Parent group Associated British Foods said: “We believe our proposition of great quality at affordable prices and attractive store experience is proving increasingly appealing to both existing and new customers. Early reaction to our spring and summer ranges has been very positive.”

7am: Begbies Traynor

Begbies Traynor said its third-quarter performance was in line with that seen in its first half and that it remains “confident” of meeting market expectations for the full year. 

Analysts’ forecasts for the current year are for revenue of £117.7m-£121.4m and adjusted pre-tax profit of £19.7m-£20.6m, the business recovery, financial advisory and property services consultancy said. 

7am: Beeks Financial Cloud

Beeks Financial Cloud, the cloud computing provider for financial markets, posted a 44% rise in underlying profit before tax to £0.65m for the half year to the end of December (H1 2022: £0.45m).

It said the size of the sales pipeline and expanded product offering provides the board with confidence in achieving results for the year in line with market expectations and in the longer term growth prospects for Beeks.

Gordon McArthur, CEO, said: “Our principal focus for the second half will be to convert our substantial pipeline of opportunities across the newly launched Exchange Cloud offering.

“While the macro environment presents challenges to all businesses, we believe the shift of the financial services sector to cloud computing will continue at pace.”

Global markets

European Central Bank officials are not ruling out that rates might need to go up significantly beyond March.

Traders are pricing in another 75 basis points of moves in the 20-nation euro zone before the end of the summer.

Jittery markets are also keeping any eye on developments on the Russia-China front after the US said any lethal aid from China to Russia would come at ‘real costs.”

Results are due from fund manager Abrdn, London Stock Exchange and Telefonica.

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