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The FTSE 100 index in London started the day without any change, as Primark owner and Watches of Switzerland experienced the largest increases after positive gains.
The key blue-chip index in the capital was up 0.06 per cent after commencing at 7,413.60, while the domestically-focused FTSE 250 index climbed 0.22 per cent to 17,786.23 as its strong performance continued.
The biggest winner at the top of the index was Associated British Foods, the owner of Primark, which announced an almost £20bn surge in revenue and an increase in sales. Its shares rose almost six percent after opening, as investors were encouraged by its pre-Christmas surge.
In the meantime, Swiss insurer Watches, which is listed on the FTSE 250, observed its shares increase over 12 per cent after announcing that its revenue grew from £374m to £379m.
The upcoming two months are a critical period for brands such as Watches of Switzerland, as British consumers undertake their Christmas shopping, often splurging on significant items.
Despite a cost-of-living crisis, Primark’s owner has managed to consistently generate substantial profits, with group revenue escalating by 16 per cent to £19.7bn for the entire year.
The CEO of the budget fashion brand stated that revenue at its retail division surged by 17 per cent to £9bn, as customers flocked to brick-and-mortar stores in pursuit of affordable clothing.
“One of ABF’s main strengths lies in its diverse portfolio of businesses, which includes many well-known food brands like Kingsmill, Ryvita, and Patak,” explained Arin Chikri, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdowne.
“This diversification aids in risk mitigation, ensuring that the company does not rely too heavily on any single product or division.”
Meanwhile, China recorded a 6.4 percent decline in October exports compared to the previous year, while imports surprisingly rose by 3.0%. This mixed data highlights the uneven nature of the recovery across the globe’s economic powerhouses.
On the FTSE 250, Persimmon Shares noted that it anticipated highly uncertain market conditions in 2024 due to the impact of higher interest rates.
The company revealed that new homebuilding in the quarter leading up to November 6 plummeted by 37 per cent when compared to the previous year, totaling 1,439 units, and also mentioned that the pre-order prices for new homes for private sale fell by two per cent, hovering around £277,750.
This update arrives as new figures indicate an unexpected increase in house prices in October, breaking a streak of six consecutive declines.
According to Halifax, the average UK home now carries a price tag of £281k, nearly £3,000 more than the previous month.
Meanwhile, data reveals that grocery price inflation has dropped to single digits for the first time in 16 months.
Kantar analysts reported that grocery store prices in the four-week period ending on October 29 were 9.7 percent higher than the same period last year, down from 11 per cent the previous month.
This marks the eighth consecutive decline in the rate of price growth since the figure reached its peak at 17.5 percent in March, and it is the first time the figure has fallen below 10 percent since July of last year.