IHG sees strong demand | Retail slips | Lower borrowing
The FTSE 100 suffered its worst week in two months, falling 97.39 points on the day and ending 197.46 points, or 2.6% lower than Monday. It is now close to a two-month low of 7,402.14.
Renewed warnings that the US Federal Reserve’s monetary policy could be tightened further, sparking a new round of interest rate rises, have added to nervousness over the Middles East and underwhelming corporate reports. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 286.89 points, or 0.9%.
The concern has spread to the high street with a number of retailers taking hits yesterday. Ocado fell 15.5p to 486¾p and even growth companies such as JD Sports Fashion lost 3.75p to 126.5p, Marks & Spencer shed 3.5p to 214.5p and Next was down 130p, or 1.9% at 6834p.
InterContinental Hotels Group reported strong travel demand in the third quarter and said occupancy levels were almost back to pre-Covid levels. However, it slipped 276p, or 4.% to 5878p in the absence of fresh cash returns to shareholders.
Elie Maalouf, chief executive, said: “Group-wide occupancy was 72%, just one percentage point behind 2019 which further confirms the near-complete return to pre‑Covid levels of demand.”
“Travel demand remained very healthy during the quarter,” she added, “with pricing remaining “very robust.”
The hotel operator, whose portfolio includes The George in Edinburgh (pictured), said Q3 revenue per available room (RevPAR) rose 10.5% from the year before with Americas up 4.1%, EMEAA up 15.9% and Greater China up 43.2%.
Former RBS and WorldPay executive Sir Ron Kalifa has been appointed a non-executive director from 1 January.
He is currently chair of Network International, the payments operator across the Middle East and Africa, and non-executive director and senior independent director on the court of directors at the Bank of England.
Prior to this, he was the chief executive at Worldpay from 2002 to 2013 before becoming deputy chair until February 2020.
Between 1986 and 2002, he held leadership roles across operations, sales and marketing and eCommerce at the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Retail sales fall
Retail sales across the UK slumped last month as warm weather put shoppers off buying autumn clothing, according to official figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes fell by 0.9% in September against the 0.4% increase in August.
The fall was heavier than the 0.35% fall predicted by analysts.
ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner said: “Cost-of-living pressures are influencing consumers, particularly for sales of non-essential goods.
“It was a poor month for clothing stores as the warm autumnal conditions reduced sales of colder weather gear.
“However, September’s unseasonable warmth did help drive up food sales a little, and fuel sales rebounded from last month’s fall.”
Government borrowing falls
The UK government borrowed £14.3bn last month, £1.6bn less than a year earlier, but the sixth highest borrowing in September since 1993.
Economists had predicted borrowing to be £18.3bn.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “We had to borrow during the pandemic to protect lives and livelihoods, but since then Putin’s invasion has pushed up inflation and interest rates.
“This means we spent twice as much on debt interest last year as we did the previous year.
“This is clearly not sustainable; we need to get debt falling and reduce public sector waste so that those delivering public services can get back to what they do best; teaching our children, keeping us safe, and treating us when we’re sick.”