Portfolio

London open: Stocks gain as retail sales beat expectations; NatWest in focus

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Friday 16 Feb 2024

London open: Stocks gain as retail sales beat expectations; NatWest in focus

(Sharecast News) - London stocks rose in early trade on Friday after the release of better-than-expected UK retail sales data and well-received results from NatWest.
At 0830 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 0.8% at 7,658.1.

Figures released earlier by the Office for National Statistics showed that retail sales rose 3.4% in January following a downwardly-revised 3.3% drop in December, coming in comfortably above economists' expectations for a 1.5% increase.

Both food and non-food sales strengthened. Food store sales volumes jumped 3.4% over the month, or by 0.6% over the year, recovering from December's record 3.1% slide. Non-food store sales rose 3%, in contrast to December's 3.9% fall.

In the three months to January, total sales volumes eased 0.2% on the previous quarter - the smallest decline since August.

Heather Bovill, deputy director for surveys and economic indicators at the ONS, said: "Overall sales have now recovered to pre-December levels, although if we look at the broader picture, they are still below where they were pre-pandemic.

"Sales increased across nearly all retail sectors, and it was a particularly strong month for supermarkets. A fall in prices at the pump also meant a solid month for fuel sales.

"Clothing shops were the only area not to see growth this month."

Capital Economics said: "Overall, today's release was stronger than expected and suggests the drag from higher interest rates on consumer spending is fading fast and points to the economy soon moving out of recession. As a result, after a depressing 2023 for retailers, a better year should be in store in 2024."

In equity markets, NatWest Bank gained as it reported a 20% rise in operating profit and confirmed Paul Thwaite as chief executive on a permanent basis.

NatWest said 2023 pre-tax operating profit came in at £6.17bn, beating the £5.95bn average of analyst forecasts compiled by the bank. Total income rose to £14.7bn from £13.1bn a year earlier.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,658.1 0.81%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,190.97 0.48%
techMARK (TASX) 4,369.60 -0.37%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Glencore (GLEN) 402.70p 2.98%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,816.20p 2.78%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 596.00p 2.62%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 5,455.00p 2.38%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,727.50p 2.25%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 112.10p 2.05%
Prudential (PRU) 822.40p 1.83%
WPP (WPP) 783.20p 1.69%
Relx plc (REL) 3,360.00p 1.39%
Barclays (BARC) 145.40p 1.38%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) 8,848.00p -0.63%
GSK (GSK) 1,657.60p -0.32%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 66.41p -0.24%
Informa (INF) 810.60p -0.05%
Centrica (CNA) 136.15p -0.04%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 320.10p 0.03%
Admiral Group (ADM) 2,582.00p 0.04%
Whitbread (WTB) 3,485.00p 0.06%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 611.20p 0.07%
Compass Group (CPG) 2,190.00p 0.09%

FTSE 250 - Risers

IP Group (IPO) 55.00p 5.97%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 120.20p 5.07%
Bytes Technology Group (BYIT) 648.00p 3.35%
Future (FUTR) 717.50p 3.24%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 363.00p 3.13%
Sirius Real Estate Ltd. (SRE) 85.45p 2.77%
Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 163.35p 2.74%
Essentra (ESNT) 172.20p 2.50%
Volution Group (FAN) 432.40p 2.46%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 92.15p 2.39%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Workspace Group (WKP) 494.60p -2.16%
Rathbones Group (RAT) 1,546.00p -2.15%
Petershill Partners (PHLL) 169.80p -1.85%
Allianz Technology Trust (ATT) 333.50p -1.77%
OSB Group (OSB) 408.60p -1.54%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 780.50p -1.14%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 529.00p -1.12%
Paragon Banking Group (PAG) 633.00p -0.78%
Shaftesbury Capital (SHC) 130.30p -0.69%
Clarkson (CKN) 3,460.00p -0.57%

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