Updates from BP, JD Sports Fashion and Spectris

Adrian Holliday
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, BP, JD Sports, Spectris
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, BP, JD Sports, Spectris

The FTSE 100 recovered more than 110 points on Thursday, climbing 1.7% to just under 6,500 points. Randgold Resources, Experian and Morrisons all saw climbs: Randgold surged 6.3% to 5265p while Experian shares rose 5.2% to 1121p. However B&Q owner Kingfisher shares sank 3.2% to 318p, a part-consequence of the Swiss franc surge; there was also a knock for Imperial Tobacco Group, down 2.8% to 2850p.

US stocks were down on the day before; the Dow Jones drifted 106 points lower to 17,320.7 with JP Morgan Chase and Caterpillar Inc taking hits (slipping 3.2% and 2% lower respectively) .

We start with a trading update from JD Sports Fashion. Like-for-like store sales growth for the five-week period to 3 January 2015 was 12%. Encouraging given the strong comparatives of the previous year says JD Sports.

Cumulative like-for-like sales growth for these stores for the 48-week period to 3rd January 2015 is now 12%. The Board claims it's confident that headline profit will exceed top end of market expectations (up to £90m).

"I am delighted to be able to report that the great momentum I reported in the Sports Fascias in all our territories earlier in the financial year has been maintained during the key Christmas period," exec chairman Peter Cowgill said.

Next, instruments and controls operator Spectris. Sales for the fourth quarter increased 5% on a reported and like-for-like basis. For the full year, like-for-like sales grew 2% compared to 2013.

After adjusting for acquisitions, which contributed 1%, plus foreign currency exchange movements, which had a negative 5% hit, reported sales for 2014 are cut 2%. Full year operating profits are now expected to come in at £198m.

"The macro-economic environment," says chief exec John O'Higgins, "remains challenging, but we will continue to progress our strategic initiatives and believe that the Group is well positioned for 2015 and beyond."

Lastly, BP still could be liable for a fine of up to £9bn for the Gulf of Mexico spill. The better news is that a US judge has stated that the spill was 3.2m barrels, not more than 4m, as the US government had previously estimated.

Potentially, that means BP's fine could have been substantially larger. Additionally, the US court found that BP had not been grossly negligent.

"BP believes," the oil giant said in a statement, "that considering all the statutory penalty factors together weighs in favor of a penalty at the lower end of the statutory range."

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