Sterling climbed half a percent against the dollar, the currency expressing its relief that the UK’s consumer landscape was fairly strong over the holiday period (though its gains couldn’t help it against the euro, where it fell 0.1%). The situation was a bit murkier for the FTSE; the UK index fell 15 points as the morning went on, hampered by the sheer number of trading statements released before the bell.
Tesco remained down by nearly 2.5% with investors seemingly disappointed in its meagre Christmas growth despite a positive picture across the third quarter. Marks & Spencer, meanwhile, couldn’t maintain its robust gains; having risen as much as 5% as the start of the session the high street staple now finds itself in negative territory, investors perhaps more focusing on the company’s tricky bigger picture than the surprising surge in like-for-like sales in its clothing division. Add onto that losses for a coy Associated British Foods, which fell 3% after failing to provide the market with comparable sales figures for Primark, and the Trump-fearing pharmaceutical stocks and the FTSE’s flaccid performance becomes understandable.
Looking ahead to this afternoon and once again the Dow Jones is facing a sub-19900 opening, with the futures pointing to a 50 point drop after the bell. The usual Thursday jobless claims reading, set to rise from last week’s near 43 year low, is joined by the latest import prices figure, which is forecast to jump to 0.8% from -0.3% month-on-month.