Interim results from two of the high street's biggest names, Next and the John Lewis Partnership, start us off this morning. Those results are always looked for as an indication of the wider health of the economy. News too from housebuilder Barratt and accountants RSM Tenon.
Fashion retailer Next has posted its half year results – chairman Lord Wolfson says the figures show the chain is "resilient", but they are below what analysts were predicting. In a nutshell, revenue rose 3.6% to £1,565m, pre-tax profits rose 8.5% to £228m and the interim dividend is up 10% to 27.5p.
The online Next Directory service continues to grow, with revenue up 15.1% to £486.7m. There are now 2.9m active Directory customers, up 10.3% on last year. Retail sales were down 1.8%. Clothing sales remain "encouraging" while sales in the homeware sector have been "poor".
The John Lewis Partnership reports a gross sales increase of 6.4% to £4.05bn in a set of interims this morning. But operating profit was down 23.2% to £111.5m and pre-tax profit down 18.2% to £90.4m. Sales at Waitrose rose 8.7% to £2.63bn, and sales at John Lewis were up 2.5% to £1.42m.
Chief executive Mark Clare said: "This has been a year of good progress against a challenging backdrop. We have achieved a 50% increase in profit from operations before operating exceptional items, agreed terms on 8,861 plots of land, were awarded HBF Five Star status for a second consecutive year, and refinanced our business until 2015."
Accountants RSM Tenon enjoyed a 31% increase in turnover to £249.1m last year, according to final results published this morning. That took pre-tax profits up 12% to £27.1m. A reduced dividend of 0.55p will, says the firm, "allow us to preserve resources in an unpredictable business environment".
After a bumpy ride, the FTSE 100 closed yesterday up 44 points at 5,174. Greek debt worries led to losses in early trade, but indications from Germany and France that action would be taken to resolve the issue, plus a good start on Wall Street, sent the index back into positive territory.
Hedge fund Man Group was the biggest riser, with Marks & Spencer also on the up after its stock was upgraded from fair to buy. Shares in insurer Prudential also moved up sharply as rumours of a takeover bid from China resurfaced.