Pick of the early market news

Updated: 

Workers cross bridge in LondonAFP/Getty

Next is the biggest name reporting this morning, but behind the headline positive sales figures is the fact that sales growth is being driven not though the chain's high street stores, but over the internet. Is it possible we could see a major high street name go online only if the trend continues? News too from insurer and pensions giant Standard Life on what's a relatively quiet start after the drama of yesterday's Greek referendum decision.

News that the Greek people are to be given a say in what happens to their economy spooked the markets yesterday, with the FTSE 100 down 122 points to close the session at 5,422. Wall Street closed down 270 points, markets in France and Germany lost 5% of their value, and in Italy the market slumped by 7%.

Retailer Next reports third quarters sales rose by 3.3%, bringing the rate of increase of sales for the year to date up 3.2%. When those figures are broken down it's the online Next Directory business that is driving growth, with sales up 16.9% for the third quarter and 15.8% for the year to date.

Figures from the chain's high street shops are less encouraging, down 3.3% for the quarter and 2.3% for the year to date. Guidance to January 2012 is that brand sales growth will be in the 2.5-4% range, with profit before tax of between £550m and £585m. The chain is confident there will be no further price increases in the first half of 2012.

An interim statement from insurer and pensions giant Standard Life expresses optimism that the firm is well positioned to face the regulatory changes in the industry and to cope with challenging market conditions. The group has £191 of assets under administration, down from £196.8bn in December.

The capital position is reported to be "strong", with direct shareholder exposure to government debt in the Eurozone at less than £50m. Chief executive David Nish said: "The outlook for our business is positive and we are confident in the future growth opportunities in our chosen markets."

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