Stateside, an 85-point drop for the Dow Jones, falling to 17,949.5 with Travelers Company plunging more than 4%; the strong dollar continues to hurt corporate earnings while the euro slipped further on Greek worry.
The big news this morning is Tesco and a record £6.4bn annual loss - Tesco's worst numbers ever. These numbers contrast with a pre-tax profit of £2.26bn last year. Trading profit plunges 60% to £1.4bn in contrast to £3.3bn a year ago.
However UK like-for-like sales volumes were up for first time in more than four years, driven by better availability, service and pricing so Tesco claims; like-for-like sales performance improved in Q4.
"The results," says boss Dave Lewis, "we have published today reflect a deterioration in the market and, more significantly, an erosion of our competitiveness over recent years. We have faced into this reality, sought to draw a line under the past and begun to rebuild..."
Its Plumbing & Heating division remains focused on branch re-segmentation however the market remains challenging, the company warns. Its Contracts division continues to grow strongly through significant market share gains it says.
"Price inflation," says Travis Perkins, "weakened modestly through the quarter with lower inflation on heavyside categories and modest price deflation on lightside categories."
We end with a trip to the bookies - Ladbrokes. Q1 operating profit dips 22% to £14.3m however digital net revenues climb 9.5%. Key performance indicators though take a battering with Sportsbook net revenues down 31.5%.
"Many of our customer metrics," says chief exec Jim Mullen, "are encouraging but results have favoured customers and profits are materially down...We need to change the way we run the business, build scale, primarily in Digital and respond faster to the customer and changes in the market place."
Mullen has promised his strategic review will arrive by June, earlier than originally promised. Ladbrokes is likely to close a substantial number of its Ireland stores (almost 200).
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