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London continues recovery | Next guides lower

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4.30pm: FTSE 100 finishes strongly

The FTSE 100 closed 80.02 points higher at 7,564.27.


9.30pm: London opens higher

UBS

“The FTSE 100 made a solid start on Wednesday morning, continuing the cautious recovery for markets from the trauma of the collapse of SVB and forced union between Credit Suisse and UBS earlier this month,” says AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

“Bringing in Sergio Ermotti as CEO – a key figure in UBS’ recovery from the Great Financial Crisis – to oversee the combination between Switzerland’s two biggest banks is a move likely to help salve market wounds.

“Shares in International Distributions Services moved higher as its Royal Mail arm gave unions 48 hours to accept a pay deal or face the risk of the business being tipped into administration.

“Whether a negotiating ploy or not, it demonstrates just how fraught the situation is at the delivery company and how poor relations are with its staff. This implies a clear failure on the part of management.”     

The FTSE 100 was 44 points higher at 7,528.56+44.31.


7am: Next

Next

Fashion retailer Next has posted a better-than-expected 5.7% rise in annual profit last year, but is forecasting a fall in the year ahead.

The company, which yesterday snapped up the assets of Cath Kidston, reported a pretax profit of £870.4m in the year to the end of January (2022: £823.1m) and compared to guidance of £860m.  

For 2023-24 Next kept its guidance for a 1.5% decline in full-price sales and profit of £795m.

It said: “As it stands today the group has far more ideas and opportunities for long term growth than it has had for some time.

“And while the year ahead looks very challenging, we are not facing the kind of long term structural obstacles that we have overcome in the past eight years.”

Chief executive Lord Wolfson added: “The year ahead looks like it will be challenging: the combination of inflation in our cost base and top line sales which are likely to edge backwards is uncomfortable.”


7am: Artisanal Spirits Company

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Artisanal Spirits Company, owner of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), slightly exceeded market expectations with 19% revenue growth to £21.8 million and a 12% rise in members.

The company posted a loss before tax of £2.1m, down from £2.7m in the previous year, but saw adjusted EBITDA improve by £1m.

Full story here


Global markets

After a frantic few days, an air of calm has descended on the markets which have shown mixed sentiments over the last 24 hours.

In the US, the Dow Jones closed down 0.1%, the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.5% and the S&P 500 dipped 0.2%

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 index was up 0.8%. In China, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.1%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was up 2.1%. 



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