Skip Header
Important information: The value of investments can go down as well as up so you may get back less than you invest. Investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. This is a third-party news feed and may not reflect Fidelity’s views.

London open: Stocks gain as retail sales beat expectations; NatWest in focus

(Sharecast News) - London stocks rose in early trade on Friday after the release of better-than-expected UK retail sales data and well-received results from NatWest. At 0830 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 0.8% at 7,658.1.

Figures released earlier by the Office for National Statistics showed that retail sales rose 3.4% in January following a downwardly-revised 3.3% drop in December, coming in comfortably above economists' expectations for a 1.5% increase.

Both food and non-food sales strengthened. Food store sales volumes jumped 3.4% over the month, or by 0.6% over the year, recovering from December's record 3.1% slide. Non-food store sales rose 3%, in contrast to December's 3.9% fall.

In the three months to January, total sales volumes eased 0.2% on the previous quarter - the smallest decline since August.

Heather Bovill, deputy director for surveys and economic indicators at the ONS, said: "Overall sales have now recovered to pre-December levels, although if we look at the broader picture, they are still below where they were pre-pandemic.

"Sales increased across nearly all retail sectors, and it was a particularly strong month for supermarkets. A fall in prices at the pump also meant a solid month for fuel sales.

"Clothing shops were the only area not to see growth this month."

Capital Economics said: "Overall, today's release was stronger than expected and suggests the drag from higher interest rates on consumer spending is fading fast and points to the economy soon moving out of recession. As a result, after a depressing 2023 for retailers, a better year should be in store in 2024."

In equity markets, NatWest Bank gained as it reported a 20% rise in operating profit and confirmed Paul Thwaite as chief executive on a permanent basis.

NatWest said 2023 pre-tax operating profit came in at £6.17bn, beating the £5.95bn average of analyst forecasts compiled by the bank. Total income rose to £14.7bn from £13.1bn a year earlier.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,658.1 0.81% FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,190.97 0.48% techMARK (TASX) 4,369.60 -0.37%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Glencore (GLEN) 402.70p 2.98% Anglo American (AAL) 1,816.20p 2.78% Standard Chartered (STAN) 596.00p 2.62% Rio Tinto (RIO) 5,455.00p 2.38% Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,727.50p 2.25% JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 112.10p 2.05% Prudential (PRU) 822.40p 1.83% WPP (WPP) 783.20p 1.69% Relx plc (REL) 3,360.00p 1.39% Barclays (BARC) 145.40p 1.38%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) 8,848.00p -0.63% GSK (GSK) 1,657.60p -0.32% Vodafone Group (VOD) 66.41p -0.24% Informa (INF) 810.60p -0.05% Centrica (CNA) 136.15p -0.04% Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 320.10p 0.03% Admiral Group (ADM) 2,582.00p 0.04% Whitbread (WTB) 3,485.00p 0.06% Melrose Industries (MRO) 611.20p 0.07% Compass Group (CPG) 2,190.00p 0.09%

FTSE 250 - Risers

IP Group (IPO) 55.00p 5.97% Spirent Communications (SPT) 120.20p 5.07% Bytes Technology Group (BYIT) 648.00p 3.35% Future (FUTR) 717.50p 3.24% Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 363.00p 3.13% Sirius Real Estate Ltd. (SRE) 85.45p 2.77% Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 163.35p 2.74% Essentra (ESNT) 172.20p 2.50% Volution Group (FAN) 432.40p 2.46% Hochschild Mining (HOC) 92.15p 2.39%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Workspace Group (WKP) 494.60p -2.16% Rathbones Group (RAT) 1,546.00p -2.15% Petershill Partners (PHLL) 169.80p -1.85% Allianz Technology Trust (ATT) 333.50p -1.77% OSB Group (OSB) 408.60p -1.54% Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 780.50p -1.14% Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 529.00p -1.12% Paragon Banking Group (PAG) 633.00p -0.78% Shaftesbury Capital (SHC) 130.30p -0.69% Clarkson (CKN) 3,460.00p -0.57%

Share this article

Related Sharecast Articles

Directors deals: Ashtead Technology finance director adds to holdings
(Sharecast News) - Ashtead Technology's finance director sold some shares to cover her obligations with HMRC after exercising options under the company's incentive plan.
Broker tips: DS Smith, Man Group
(Sharecast News) - Numis downgraded its stance on packaging group DS Smith on Friday to 'hold' from 'buy' as it said there was insufficient upside to retain a buy rating.
FTSE 250 movers: Miners benefit from Israel attack on Iran; Man Group disappoints
(Sharecast News) - FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,323.96 -0.65%
FTSE 100 movers: Mondi, retailers under the cosh
(Sharecast News) - London's FTSE 100 was down 0.5% at 7,840.05 in afternoon trade on Friday.

Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

Award-winning online share dealing

Search, compare and select from thousands of shares.

Expert insights into investing your money

Our team of experts explore the world of share dealing.