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FTSE 100 Live: Inflation rate falls for second month in row, Burberry posts update


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FTSE 100 opens higher

The FTSE 100 is up 4 points to 7,855 in the opening minutes of trade as it hovers near a record high. Here’s a look at the biggest opening moves.

Shares in Smiths Group PLC climbed the most, up 2.26% to 1719p. Shares in International Consolidated Airlines Group SA were up 2.14% to 160.3p. Shares in InterContinental Hotels Group PLC were up 2.05% to 5572p. Shares in GSK plc fell the most. They were down -1.2% to 1420.6p. Shares in SEGRO PLC dropped -1.11% to 840.6p. Shares in Barratt Developments P L C were down -1.09% to 452.7p. 1674028960

Australian lasers and US robot fighting vehicles help Qinetiq pass £1 billion in orders

FTSE 250 defence contractor Qinetiq said orders for its current financial year passed £1 billion in its third quarter, helped by the delivery of robotic combat vehicles to the US military.

The Farnborough-based company supplies the light vehicles to the US army and is currently testing four prototypes them with soldiers ahead of the next stage of supplies of them in 2024.

It also signed am £80 million,  10-year contract with the Ministry of Defence in the UK covering mission data services and a multi-million pound contract with Australia to develop a high energy laser weapon system.

Qinetiq said it was on course to to meet expectations for the full year.

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FTSE 100 seen lower amid Wall Street pressure

The FTSE 100 index fell 0.1% and the UK-focused FTSE 250 index dropped 0.7% after yesterday’s jobs market figures fuelled expectations that the Bank of England will increase interest rates by 0.5% at its February meeting.

Traders expect another subdued session today, with CMC Markets forecasting the FTSE 100 index will open 10 points lower at 7841.

The downbeat mood reflects last night’s weaker session for US markets after a disappointing earnings performance by Goldman Sachs extended the mixed start to the fourth quarter results season.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 1% and the S&P 500 fell 0.2%, but the Nasdaq was slightly higher after a 7% jump for Tesla shares.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei index jumped 2.5% after the country’s central bank maintained its short-term interest rate at minus 0.1% and defied expectations that it would abandon its yield control curve. However, the outcome caused the yen to slump 2.5% against the US dollar in its biggest one-day drop since March 2020.

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Burberry sales slow, hit by Covid-19 related disruption in China

British luxury goods firm Burberry today said third quarter sales had slowed to 1%, as Covid-19 related disruption in China impacted the business.

The FTSE 100 fashion brand, known for its trench coats, reported comparable sales increased 1% in the three months to December, down from 7% growth a year earlier.

Chief executive Jonathan Akeroyd said: “Overall, we are pleased with our performance in the third quarter as double-digit revenue growth outside of Mainland China offset the impact of Covid 19-related disruption there. Europe in particular continued to perform well, driven by strong trading over the festive period, and leather goods delivered another quarter of double-digit growth globally.”

He added: “We remain confident in our ability to reach our medium-term targets, despite the current macro-economic environment.”

Total retail revenue was £756 million up from £723 million.

Akeroyd joined the company in April 2022 and is aiming to increase annual revenues to £5 billion, with plans such as increasing sales of higher-margin handbags, shoes and other accessories. In the year to April 2022 it recorded sales of £2.8 billion.

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Pearson eyes further cost savings as adjusted profit beats forecasts

Pearson, the FTSE 100 education company, pointed to further cost savings in 2023, as it reported an 11% rise in adjusted operating profit of £455 million, ahead of expectations.

It said it was on track to deliver around £120 million of “cost efficiencies” in 2023, mainly from its Higher Education unit, with £20 million intended to offset “ongoing inflationary pressure”. It said the one-off costs relating to the changes would be excluded from its adjusted operating profit, would reach around £150 million, “reflecting increased level of savings and movements in FX”.

The textbook publisher and educational services company was at the centre of controversy in August when results of its BTEC courses were delayed. It said today that sales at its Workforce Skills unit, home to  BTEC, rose 7% for the year.

Its trading update excluded sales from businesses that the company is selling, which fell 16%. They include publishing businesses in Europe, French speaking Canada, Hong Kong and South Africa.

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WH Smith sales soar as retailer ramps up expansion plans

Newsagents WH Smith boasted of being in its “strongest ever position” today as it reported soaring sales and ramped up expansion plans.

The firm saw revenues leap 40% in the 20 weeks to mid-January, as a 77% uptick at its stores in airports and train stations helped offset a 2% fall in sales on the high street.

The firm has plans for a further 130 new stores worldwide, including at Reagan National airport in Washington and Palm Springs airport in the US.

WH Smith boss Carl Cowling said: “The Group is in its strongest ever position as a global travel retailer.

“This strength, combined with the ongoing improvement in passenger numbers across the globe, means that we are confident of another year of significant growth in 2023.”

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Double-digit inflation maintains rates rise pressure

Today’s inflation rate of 10.5% and higher-than-expected growth in core prices of 6.3% increase the chances of another big interest rate rise by the Bank of England.

The Bank’s base rate currently stands at 3.5%, with another 0.5% rise on the table when policymakers meet next month.

The case for a further outsized increase in borrowing costs built yesterday after figures showed a tighter-than-expected labour market, with today’s inflation update doing little to ease fears about lingering price pressures.

The Office for National Statistics said that prices at petrol forecourts fell notably in December and that the cost of clothing also eased, but this was offset by increases for air fares and food prices.

The consumer price index peaked at 11.1% in October before falling to 10.7% in November and 10.5% today. The retail price index stood at 13.4%, down from 14% previously.

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