FTSE slides as Italy downgraded and Turkish inflation rises

The FTSE and other European indices started the day just above the red line but concerns that inflation in Turkey will spark another round of lira weakening turned that trend around.

Worries about Italy’s financial health also didn’t help as Fitch Ratings downgraded the debt outlook of the Eurozone’s largest government borrower to negative. Fitch left Italy's credit rating unchanged at BBB, but said it was concerned about the new and untested nature of the populist government in Italy.

Conflicting statements from ministers in the Italian government on whether Italy will continue to adhere to EU budgetary constraints are also muddying the waters for bond traders.

Hot summer boost airline passenger numbers

Despite a summer of strikes and a shortage of air traffic controllers in Europe, passenger numbers for budget airlines Ryanair and Wizz Air are higher year on year.

The higher numbers reported by budget flight providers will be a reasonably good indicator of how the bigger airlines have done including the FTSE 100-listed International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways.

Ryanair’s numbers increased by 9% despite the fact that it went head to head with its pilots' union and ended up having to cancel 550 flights in August. The loss was partially mitigated by Ryanair’s recent purchase of Lauda Airlines.

Wizz Air used a different approach and added 30 new routes to increase their passenger numbers by 20%. The carrier is primarily focused on the less well served Eastern European markets and the new routes included flights to Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Albania.

Shop sales fall in August

Unlike airlines, retailers faced more problems as the long hot summer didn’t translate into better sales but higher pub sales instead.

The total spending in shops was up only 1.3% on the same month last year. Because of the weather – the joint hottest summer recorded – money was spent on food, drinks, barbecues and pubs, but consumers bought less clothes and shoes.  

The hot weather drove people to seek ways to cool down. As a result pub sales jumped 12%, according to Barclaycard, which processes almost a half of all the card payments in Britain.

Although it would be easy to explain away the lower overall sales with the climatic quirk of this summer, there is an underlying pressure on sales stemming from the fact that wages are growing very slowly and that inflation has picked up. 

This combined with uncertainty in the work place, caused by Brexit, will keep the lid on any increases in shop sales, even when the weather cools down.

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