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London pre-open: Stocks seen lower as investors mull inflation data

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Wednesday 24 May 2023

London pre-open: Stocks seen lower as investors mull inflation data

(Sharecast News) - London stocks were set to fall at the open on Wednesday following a downbeat session in the US, as investors mull the latest UK inflation data.
The FTSE 100 was called to open 35 points lower at 7,728.

Data released earlier by the Office for National Statistics showed that consumer price inflation fell less than expected in April, while food prices remained high.

CPI declined to 8.7% from 10.1% in March, versus expectations for a fall to 8.2%. Nevertheless, it was the first time consumer price inflation came in below 10% since August last year, as energy prices came off their highs.

Food inflation remained high, however, at 19.1% in April, down just a touch from 19.2% the month before.

Capital Economics said the smaller-than-expected fall in CPI inflation "means it is now very hard to imagine the Bank of England not raising interest rates from 4.50% to 4.75% in June".

In corporate news, retailer Marks & Spencer delivered a forecast-busting annual profit driven by a major improvement in its food division and said it would reinstate a "modest" dividend in November.

Adjusted pre-tax profit came in at £482m, down from £522m last year, but better than expectations of £431m. The prior year's figure was also boosted by almost £60m in business rate relief.

"M&S has had a good start to the new financial year, with both food and clothing & home growing sales. While the economic outlook for consumer spending is uncertain, cost inflation remains high, and market conditions are expected to become more challenging, the strategy is beginning to deliver improved performance and there remains much within the group's control," the company said.

"In full-year 2024, modest growth is expected in revenues, driven by omni-channel as well as from the benefits of the accelerating store rotation plan. Further investment in quality and trusted value will be partly offset by actions to mitigate sourcing cost pressures and to reduce waste and stock loss."

Elsewhere, B&Q owner Kingfisher backed its full-year guidance as it posted a decline in first-quarter sales.

Sales came in at £3.3bn, up 0.8% on a reported basis but down 2% at constant currency and 3.3% lower on a like-for-like basis.


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