Slow start to the week for FTSE on mixed retail and utility news

The FTSE 100 started the week unchanged at 7,724.93 as the strong pound countered the effect of a higher close on Wall Street Friday and an uptick in the markets in Asia.

The FTSE 100 started the week unchanged at 7,724.93 as the strong pound countered the effect of a higher close on Wall Street Friday and an uptick in the markets in Asia.

The pound traded higher at $1.3550 from $1.3536 at the previous close while the euro was unchanged at $1.1958. 

In Hong Kong the Hang Seng rose 1.2% to 31,495.60 while in Tokyo the Nikkei closed up 0.5% at 22,865.86. The DJIA finished the week up 0.4% at 24,831.17 and the S&P 500 up 0.2% at 2,727.72. 

Monday morning started with retailers in focus after a study showed an “unprecedented” drop in footfall on the UK high street in March and April. The decline of 4.8% over the two months has not been seen since the depths of recession in 2009 and even then the drop was less severe at 3.8%, according to the British Retail Consortium/Springboard Retail Footfall Monitor.

Marks & Spencer shares fell 1.16% after the market opened to 290 but Sainsbury moved in the opposite direction to trade up 0.78% to 309.05. 

Centrica shares rose 1.22% to 148.80 following the company’s trading update which can at best be described as mixed. On the one hand the company said that overall its financial performance this year has been good. On the other, it said that the effects of the cold and snowy spell in the UK earlier this year will result in lower adjusted operating profit for the first half of the year. During the bouts of snow and cold the company had to tackle 145,000 call-outs for boiler and central heating breakdowns which have resulted in additional costs which will be felt on the company’s six-months bottom line.

Npower, the British arm of German power company Innogy, also provided a mixed bag of information as it reported an increase in first quarter adjusted earnings before interest and tax to £43 million, up from £34 million in the same period last year. At the same time, the company lost 115,000 customers, a decline of 2.4% which will reflect on the company’s earnings in the coming quarters. Npower is due to merge with SSE to create a company with combined sales of £11 billion to challenge the largest UK utility British Gas.

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