Belfast Telegraph

Top flight index edges up despite hefty fall from luxury fashion firm Burberry

London's top flight index edged up despite a hefty fall from luxury fashion firm Burberry after it warned over profits.

The group - famous for its trench coats and check scarves - saw shares slump more than 3% as its said profits for the new financial year ending 2017 would be at the bottom end of forecasts after recent sales tumbled back into the red.

The FTSE 100 Index was up 2.2 points to 6365.1, as ITV jumped more than 1% amid speculation it is considering a takeover of Peppa Pig owner Entertainment One.

In Europe, Germany's Dax was up 0.7%, while the Cac 40 in France climbed 0.5%

The pound remained under pressure after the latest rates announcement by the Bank of England revealed there was evidence the EU referendum was already hitting activity.

Minutes of the meeting showed the Monetary Policy Committee warning there may be "some softening in growth during the first half of 2016" as it held rates once more at 0.5%.

Sterling fell a cent to 1.41 US dollars and edged lower to 1.256 euros.

Among stocks, Burberry was in sharp focus after it revealed fourth quarter sales tumbled by 5% amid lower spending by Chinese tourists in continental Europe and a collapse in the Hong Kong luxury market.

The firm had raised hopes it was turning the corner earlier this year when it halted sales declines in the third quarter, but the latest update confirmed no let-up in luxury market woes.

Shares in Burberry fell 49p to 1296p.

FTSE 250 firm Debenhams was enjoying better fortunes after unveiling higher-than-expected interim profits as it edges closer to appointing a new chief executive.

The department store chain rose more than 3% as it confirmed boss Michael Sharp had resigned and posted a solid set of half-year results, with a 5.5% rise in group pre-tax profits to £93.8 million for the six months to February 27.

Its shares rose 2.7p to 80p, despite group like-for-like sales growth slowing to 1.1%, down from 1.9% over the Christmas season.

The retailer said it is "in the final stages" of appointing a new chief executive, with Mr Sharp remaining at the helm until a successor is appointed.

Elsewhere, retailer Mothercare saw its shares plummet more than 20% following tough trading in its international business.

The baby goods and maternity chain said sales fell in all four international regions in the 11 weeks to March 26. Sales were down by 9.7% with currency movements stripped out, or 10.8% lower in actual currencies.

Sales in the UK improved, with like-for-like numbers rising for the eighth quarter in a row, up by 2.1%, but this failed to stop shares sinking, off 34p to 154.5p.

Broadcaster ITV stepped up 3.5p to 243.7p amid reports that it is mulling a potential takeover of Entertainment One.

Shares in Entertainment One surged more than 13% or 21.5p to 180.1p, despite the film distributor stating that no approach had been made.

Meanwhile, the house builders dominated the biggest fallers after analysts said there were signs that Persimmon's sales were starting to slow down.

In a trading update, the owner of Charles Church said w eekly private sales per site were 6% ahead of last year, as it sold 7,598 new homes.

Liberum analyst Charlie Campbell said: "Persimmon has seen a good start to 2016, with sales rates up 6%, but this implies that growth has moderated in the last seven weeks, to around 2.5%, as comparatives have strengthened."

The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 Index were BHP Billiton up 15.7p to 898.5p, 3I Group up 7.5p to 486.9p, Next up 80p to 5455p, Johnson Matthey up 42p to 2867p.

The biggest fallers were Persimmon down 121p to 1900p, Barratt Developments down 20.5p 522p, Berkeley Group down 115p to 2976p, Burberry Group down 49p to 1296p.

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