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Three things you need to know in the financial markets this morning from investment writer, Tony Cross

N. Brown

We have a half year report from the catalogue and high street shopping company N. Brown out this morning and once again it’s a sign that the sector is struggling. Product revenue is under pressure, although the catalogue side of the business does mean that there’s a significant revenue stream from financial services. More sales are moving online which is encouraging, but again a raft of exceptional items – £22.4 million set aside for PPI claims – have ensured that the half year performance is in the red. The dividend has been halved as a result.

Dunelm

Keeping with retail, we have a quarterly update from Dunelm and this paints a rather more positive picture for the world of retail. Total like for like sales are up by over 4% for the period and the business is, like many others in the sector, focusing on overhauling its online offering. It’s already seeing strong growth here, but is set to launch a new web platform in the coming months.

Hays

Recruiter Hays has published its Q1 trading update this morning, too, and it makes for impressive reading. 10 countries have hit all time fee records, and despite Brexit uncertainty, income in the UK is moving higher, too. This comes against some tough comparatives – although admittedly not in the UK market. The business is well diversified geographically and also in the temporary/permanent split and this provides a degree of protection against any downturn. However, any broad-based hit to the global economy is a cause for concern so news that the company is increasing its cash position should be welcomed.

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Tony Cross

Tony Cross is a market commentator with over 15 years of experience, producing compelling, insightful copy for journalists and investors alike. Focusing on macroeconomics, UK blue chip equities and inter market analysis, Cross's commentary is well regarded for its clarity and ability to cut through the waffle. He has been quoted in publications as diverse as The Financial Times, The Times, The Guardian and The Sun. He has also been a regular guest on both Share Radio and TipTV.

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