Updates from Morrisons, Centrica and Vodafone

The FTSE 100 finished just 0.90 points ahead on Friday, to 6,328.2. ITV was the biggest gainer, up +3.17%, while miner Fresnillo sank -6.34%.

More positive momentum from Asia on Monday following the Moscow G20 meeting. The Nikkei is up more than +2.0% at 11,407 points though the Hang Seng dipped slightly.
First off this morning, Morrisons and news that the struggling grocer has snapped up 49 stores from the failed Blockbuster operation - Morrisons has already bought up some former Jessops stores.

The move is needed because Morrisons is struggling in the small convenience store space, especially in the South East (where the majority of the Blockbuster stores are). The retailer currently has 12 M Local stores but is aiming to have 70 of these in place by the end of year.

Recent Morrisons sales have disappointed as the store has become increasingly vulnerable to a more confident Sainsburys while also being undercut by the likes of Lidl and Aldi. It also currently has no online delivery operation, though Morrisons is now seen as a potential buyer of Ocado.

Next, Centrica; it looks increasingly likely that British Gas profits will leap higher thanks to higher UK gas consumption following a bitingly cold winter. Centrica won't report full-year numbers until 27 February.

But City analysts are estimating overall operating profits could come in at around the £2.4bn mark. If that number is correct it represents a leap of around +15% on last year. On the residential side, profits are likely to be around +10% higher with profits potentially coming in at around £600m.

The company has confirmed that its boss of its US retail wing, Chris Weston, is to replace Phil Bentley as head of British Gas. However Centrica denies any boardroom rift. It is not know what financial package Bentley will leave the company with.

Lastly Vodafone and BAE Systems have announced the formation of a five-year partnership to provide businesses with a range of communications security products and services, initially focused on smartphones and tablets.

BAE Systems has also announced it intends to select Vodafone as its supplier of mobile communications worldwide, excluding the US.

"Our partnership with BAE Systems," says Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone, "will strengthen further our commitment to meet our customers' increasingly complex cyber security needs. We also look forward to working with BAE Systems as the company's communications partner."

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