has moved marginally higher this morning after a strong show from the Banks helped claw back some of the ground given back on Friday’s close. The financial heavyweights were helped higher by a decision by regulators to relax the Basel ruling on capital requirements, giving them some welcome breathing space and hopefully a potential boost in returns.
With the markets sliding back after the open, the focus will now be on the US open and any hangover to Friday’s payroll number with markets having had a couple of days to sleep on it..
A beat from Industrial production in Italy was enough to keep up a strong start to 2014 both Italy and Spain, with both bucking the general trend in Europe to sit comfortably in the green.
Debenhams have shot to the top of the tree in the UK this the morning after a surprise statement of intent from Sports Direct. The sports goods retailer have gone under the radar to acquire a 4.6% stake in the struggling high street chain, but have since signalled their intent to the Debenhams board to be not only a supportive shareholder but to also explore options at an operational level. You can’t read too much into the statement for now, but just a show of faith will be a welcome change of scenery to investors who have seen their stock on a terrible run from mid-October. As far any potential synergies are concerned we will await further updates, but given Sports Directs track record for online sales, any opportunity to tap into that experience could be valuable.
Given its position in a sector that remains at the mercy of a fragile UK consumer, Greene King’s run over the last 5 years is extraordinary. Today’s results confirm a 5% rise in sales for the last 6 weeks and a 3.8% gain for the first 3 quarters of the year. The best performance came from its food sales, which hit record levels on Christmas day, selling 62,000 meals across its 2200 pubs. Since hitting a low in late 2008, the stock has more than trebled at the same time as record numbers of local pubs were forced to close. Today’s numbers have continue the trend, with rival Punch Taverns also higher on the read across.
Premier foods stock responded well to the proposed concession of its majority stake in Hovis bread to US firm Gores Group. While the firm has previously stated it had no desire to sell, any reasonable offer would provide a helping hand to a business in desperate need of investment, struggling to break even in recent years. The story got a resounding thumbs up from the market, up near 6% in the first two hours.
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