Updates from IAG, Ted Baker and Petra Diamonds
The FTSE 100 flatlined on Thursday, climbing just 16 points to 6,846.7. Building suppliers operator CRH and British Land were the biggest risers, up 2.3% and 2.3% respectively (to 1885p and 850p); Tesco also climbed a further 2%. However Royal Mail shares tumbled almost 4.5% to 493p on news of a further 30% sell-off from the Government while Vodafone also stumbled, down almost 3% to 237p.
Stateside, the Dow Jones saw a 39-point bump higher to 18,039.3, helped by better confidence data. Meanwhile the IMF last night walked out on discussions with the Greek government - bailout discussions halted.
We start this morning on the high street with Ted Baker. The fashion brand claims a 24.2% hike in revenues from 1 February to 6 June. Retail sales increased 18.9% (18.1% in constant currency) and average retail square footage rose 6.6% to 345,399 sq.ft.
Ted Baker wholesale sales increased 41.2% (38.0% in constant currency) it claims, with a strong performance from both its UK and North American businesses (it now claims 414 stores globally).
US sales benefited, says the company, "from a strong start to the season and changes to buying patterns, which have brought forward some orders. Consequently, we now anticipate growth for the full year of around 18%."
Next, unhappiness from Virgin boss Richard Branson on arch-competitor IAG. Branson claims it's "absolutely wrong" that IAG is snapping up Aer Lingus in a £1bn deal, giving it more slots at Heathrow.
"I find it incredible," says Branson, quoted in the Telegraph, "that the competition authorities allow such things to happen." Branson claims valuable competition on Irish routes would be removed.
Branson wants the European Commission to investigate the deal; IAG's formal takeover came to light after the Irish government consented to sell its 25% stake; IAG and Virgin remain fierce rivals on lucrative transatlantic routes.
Finally, a brief update from Petra Diamonds. Petra's expansion program remain on time at both flagship operations Petra claims and remains on track to reach its longer-term target of 5m carats by FY 2019.
Whilst a production target of 3.2m carats for the year remains unchanged, it advises that it expects revenue for the year to be approximately US$430m.
"The company's reliance," it says, "on production from heavily diluted ore will become less of an issue during the course of FY 2016."
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