Updates from Thorntons, Greene King and Kier

savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100 thorntons, Kier, Greene KingFriday saw the FTSE 100 climb 51.4 points to 6,550.2. Oil and mining shares climbed steeply with BP up more than 5.2% to 413.3p; Glencore saw a 4.9% climb to 252.5p. Going the other direction were easyJet shares, down 2.7% to 1600p. Primark owner ABF shares also disappointed, down 1.7% to 3093p.

Across the water, the Dow Jones surged 190 points - an end to five days of straight losses - to 17,511.5 helped by oil prices cresting $50 per barrel. The big question for markets this week is QE - will ECB pull the trigger?

New Greene King numbers are first up this morning. Retail like-for-like sales were up 2.0% over Christmas & the New Year - Christmas Day sales hit a record -and 0.6% year-to-date says the pubs player.

Retail like-for-like sales were in line with last year in the last six weeks despite tough comparatives claims Greene King. Pub Partners like-for-like net income climbed 2.8%; Brewing & Brands own-brewed volume (OBV) growth surged 5.2%.

"Sales were encouraging," says boss Rooney Anand, "in our retail business over the important two weeks covering Christmas and the New Year, despite a very tough comparative from last year and softer trading in Scotland."

Next, chocolatier Thorntons claims a 6.4% slump in sales for the 14 weeks to 10 January. FMCG divisional sales slumped 10.3% to £41.9m.

Like-for-like sales on retail sales increased 5.0% and consumer direct sales were up 13%. However Thorntons shares plunged more than a third just before Christmas following a profits warning.

Orders from major retailers were partly to blame, plus warehouse glitches. Its stock slipped to 77p following the pre-Xmas profits worry; currently its share price is 79p. Thorntons shares, in contrast, were worth more than 165p last spring.

Lastly, construction operator Kier says it has been awarded more than £145m of new construction contract awards in the Middle East since the start of the calendar year.

Kier has been named preferred bidder for a £100m mixed-use development in Dubai and two infrastructure contracts totalling £15m on a major new leisure park project.

"These awards further emphasise our continuing strong order book," said boss Haydn Mursell. Kier was recently named as a preferred bidder for the £1bn Thames Water infrastructure alliance, along with Clancy Docwra.

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