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LONDON BRIEFING: UK retail sales fall; AstraZeneca gets US approval

17th Nov 2023 07:58

(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London are still set to open higher on Friday, despite October retail sales figures for the UK disappointing shortly before the opening bell.

UK retail sales declined last month despite expectations of a month-on-month increase, and declined faster than expected on an annual basis, official numbers on Friday showed.

"Cost of living pressures, reduced footfall and the great British weather all played their part. There are signs that cracks are starting to appear in the economy with consumers tightening their belts and switching to cheaper brands. Consumers are still spending more and getting less with retail sales volumes now at their lowest level since February 2021," said Wealth Club's Charlie Huggins.

Meanwhile, Swissquote Bank analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya was upbeat ahead of the final day of trading this week, particularly when reflecting upon the week's news coming out of the US.

"This week could hardly be better in terms of economic, political, and geopolitical news. The US inflation slowed more than expected, the US politicians inked a short-term deal to avert a shutdown," said Ozkardeskaya.

"On top, the US retail sales fell last month, but fell less than expected, the initial jobless claims rose, and the US unemployment benefits reached the highest level in almost two years, factory production fell more than expected and homebuilder sentiment fell to the lowest level for the year."

Here is what you need to know at the London market open:




FTSE 100: called up 0.4% at 7,441.17


Hang Seng: down 2.1% at 17,452.71

Nikkei 225: closed up 0.5% at 33,585.20

S&P/ASX 200: closed down 0.1% at 7,049.40


DJIA: closed down 45.74 points, or 0.1%, at 34,945.47

S&P 500: closed up 5.36 points, or 0.1%, at 4,508.24

Nasdaq Composite: closed up 9.84 points, or 0.1%, at 14,113.67


EUR: down at USD1.0839 (USD1.0840)

GBP: down at USD1.2377 (USD1.2398)

USD: down at JPY150.50 (JPY151.34)

Gold: up at USD1,986.42 per ounce (USD1,966.26)

(Brent): down at USD77.41 a barrel (USD80.84)

(changes since previous London equities close)




Friday's key economic events still to come:

10:00 CET EU balance of payments

11:00 CET EU CPI

08:30 EST US housing starts

08:30 CST US Fed Chicago President Austan Goolsbee speaks

10:00 EST US advance quarterly services

US FRB Boston President Susan Collins speaks

US Federal Reserve Board Vice Chair Michael Barr speaks

UK BoE Deputy Governor David Ramsden speaks


According to the Office for National Statistics, retail sales volumes declined 2.7% year-on-year in October, quickening from a 1.3% decline in September. The September figure was revised from a previous 1.0% decline. The October read also came in worse than feared, with market expectations of a 1.5% decline, according to FXStreet-cited consensus. Retail sales declined 0.3% in October from September, falling short of consensus. A monthly increase of 0.3% was forecast, according to FXStreet. In September, retail sales had fallen 1.1% from August, revised from a previous 0.9% decline. "Non-food stores sales volumes fell by 0.2% in October 2023, following a 2.1% fall in September 2023; retailers suggested that cost of living, reduced footfall and the wet weather in the second half of the month contributed to the fall," the ONS noted.


US President Joe Biden has signed a temporary spending bill a day before a potential government shutdown. The move pushes a fight with congressional Republicans over the federal budget into the new year, and wartime aid for Ukraine and Israel remains stalled. The measure passed the US house and senate by wide bipartisan margins this week, ensuring the government remains open until after the holiday season. It also potentially giving legislators more time to sort out their considerable differences over government spending levels for the current fiscal year. Biden signed the bill in San Francisco, where he is hosting the summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation economies.




Barclays raises NatWest to 'overweight' (equal weight) - price target 330 (315) pence


Barclays raises Babcock International to 'overweight' (equal weight) - price target 529 (325) pence


Jefferies cuts Great Portland Estates to 'underperform' (hold) - price target 352 (387) pence




AstraZeneca said its Truqap treatment for patients with advanced hormone receptor positive breast cancer, in combination with Faslodex, has been approved by the US Food & Drug Administration. This follows the results from its CapItello-291 phase 3 trial published earlier this year, which showed reduced risk of disease progression or death by 50% compared to Faslodex alone. AstraZeneca Executive Vice President, Oncology Business Unit Dave Fredrickson commented: "The rapid US approval of Truqap reinforces the important role of the PI3K/AKT pathway in HR-positive breast cancer and the critical need to test patients at the time of diagnosis, as up to fifty per cent have tumours with these alterations. As a first-in-class medicine, this approval provides a critical new option for patients in the US with this specific type of disease and we look forward to bringing Truqap to the many breast cancer patients who can benefit across the globe."




PureTech Health said its founded entity Karuna Therapeutics has announced positive results from its phase 1b ambulatory blood pressure monitoring trial of KarXT in treating schizophrenia. The biotechnology firm said results demonstrate that KarXT was not associated with clinically meaningful increases in blood pressure in adults with schizophrenia. This is alongside meeting its primary endpoint of demonstrating a mean change from baseline to week 8 in 24-hour ambulatory systolic blood pressure of negative 0.59 millimetres of mercury. It said KarXT was "generally well tolerated", with a side effect profile consistent with prior trials in the Emergent programme evaluating KarXT in schizophrenia.




FRP Advisory said its performance was strong during the half-year that ended October 31. The corporate finance, restructuring and debt adviser said it expects first half revenue of GBP58.7 million, up 19% from GBP49.4 million a year earlier, alongside underlying adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rising 34% to GBP15.5 million from GBP11.6 million. It noted the restructuring having seen an increase in activity levels during calendar 2023, including administrations approaching pre-pandemic levels. The company said: "Companies with significant borrowings who have rolled off lower interest rate arrangements are now subject to much higher debt service costs, with interest rates now considerably higher than the 2009-2021 period...Certain sectors such as construction, property, casual dining and food service, retail, administrative and support services are finding current trading conditions particularly challenging." Chief Executive Officer Geoff Rowley added: "We remain confident of making further progress, with leading positions in our core markets and a team and structure that leaves us well positioned to support corporates through the business cycle and respond to increased demand for our services."


By Greg Rosenvinge, Alliance News senior reporter

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