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

Tesco

More high profile news from the retail sector has been released today, with Tesco reporting its third quarter numbers. The country’s largest supermarket chain saw a 1.9% uptick over the period, although with wholesaler Booker showing 11% growth, there can be no doubting that at least for shareholders, that was a smart acquisition. It’s the 12th consecutive quarter of growth for the business. Sales at Tesco bank were up 2.4% over the same period, whilst performance in Asia has been dragged down by structural changes to operations in Thailand.

Halfords

Is it the end of the road for the cycling renaissance? Halfords published Q3 numbers this morning, showing a 2% decline in revenues, with its retail cycling operation shrinking by 0.3% in the period. Admittedly motor sales fared even worse, although the managed ‘Autocentres’ division did post growth of almost 2%. Mild weather and weak consumer confidence are limiting the company’s ability to sell, but the company is confident that sales will remain broadly unchanged into the new year and the dividend policy should be maintained.

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer adds to the picture from the high street today, again publishing third quarter numbers. Store closures have served to accelerate a decline in total sales, but even stripping these out, the number is down 2.2% on the same period last year. Exiting loss making international markets has decimated the global picture, too, but the company is standing by its full year guidance. The retail sector isn’t getting any easier. Smart thinking will be required if profitability is to be maintained.

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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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