Market report

Stocks shrug off weak retail sales to surge ahead

Retail, Multrees Walk
Shoppers have yet to make a Christmas dash (pic: Terry Murden)

Equities closed the week in positive territory state despite weaker-than-expected UK retail sales figures.

The FTSE 100 index gained 93.28 points (1.26%), closing at 7,504.25 while retail sales unexpectedly fell in October as wet weather and the cost-of-living crisis took their toll.

Sales declined by 0.3% on the month following a revised 1.1% drop in September, missing expectations for a 0.3% increase.

Heather Bovill, deputy director for surveys and economic indicators at the Office for National Statistics, said: “It was another poor month for household goods and clothes stores with these retailers reporting that cost-of-living pressures, reduced footfall and poor weather hit them hard.

“However, it was a better month for online retailers, the only main sector to report growth in October.”

The weak figures took a chunk out of Marks and Spencer Group which was off 0.39%.

Risers included NatWest Group which closed up 3.6% at 207.75p after Barclays elevated its rating for the bank from ‘equalweight’ to ‘overweight’.

Transport company FirstGroup was driven 1.38% higher after it announced a fresh agreement with Hitachi. FirstGroup announced plans to purchase up to 1,000 electric bus batteries, aligning with its commitment to advancing decarbonisation efforts.

Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings was a standout performer, jumping 5.93% after its Formula One Team revealed an agreement with US private equity firm Arctos Partners. The deal would see Arctos Partners acquire a minority shareholding in Aston Martin.

Belief that interest rates have peaked has brought some stability to commercial property valuations and prompted renewed optimism in the sector.

Shares in British Land rose another 16p, or 4.5%, to 367.25p, taking their gains for the week to 17%. Land Securities, improved almost 9% over the week, having added another 13.25p, or 2.1%, to 653.5p on the day.

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