Belfast Telegraph

Supermarket data boosts Morrisons and keeps FTSE 100 out of the red

Kantar Worldpanel data showed Morrisons’ sales increased by 2.4% over the past 12 weeks.

Morrison's shares were the best performer on the FTSE 100 on Wednesday (Morrison's/PA)
Morrison's shares were the best performer on the FTSE 100 on Wednesday (Morrison's/PA)

London’s blue chip index avoided the sea of red that hit European peers, having been buoyed in part by Morrisons shares as investors cheered a rise in sales.

The FTSE 100 ended the day nearly flat, up just 3.55 points at 7,034.01 points, while the French Cac 40 and German Dax ended the day down 0.2% and 0.37%, respectively.

Morrisons shares were London’s top performing stock, closing higher by 6.1p at 218.4p.

Fiona Cincotta, a senior market analyst at CityIndex, said: “Supermarket chain WM Morrisons was one of the best performing stocks of the day after the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel showed it continued to outperform the other top-four UK supermarkets except Tesco.”

The figures showed Morrisons sales increased by 2.4% over the past 12 weeks, resulting in a market share of 10.4%, which Kantar said was helped by a strong performance online.

The grocer seemed to have made gains despite the cold spell in March which cost retailers, as consumers opted to stay home rather than go shopping.

Yorkshire Pudding Day

In currency markets, the pound rose 0.1% against the US dollar to 1.408 but was flat versus the euro at 1.145.

Investors were digesting the eurozone’s headline inflation figures – which met expectations at 1.4% – as well as disappointing UK construction figures which took a battering from Britain’s freak cold snap,

It caused the Markit/CIPS UK Construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) to fall to 47.0 in March from 51.4 in February, missing economist forecasts of 51.0.

A reading above 50 indicates growth.

Brent crude prices fell 2% to around 67.83 US dollars per barrel, as trade war fears between the US and China continued to heap pressure on energy markets.

In UK stocks, WPP shares fell 22.5p at 1.095p amid news that the advertising agency is investigating an allegation of personal misconduct against its chief executive, Sir Martin Sorrell.

The matter is related to the possible misuse of company assets, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources.

Mothercare slumped 0.88p to 17.38p after announcing that its current boss Mark Newton-Jones was stepping down with immediate effect, and would be replaced by David Wood who joins from US grocery and pharmaceuticals giant Kmart where he served as group president.

London listed shares for C&C Group rose 0.29p to 2.86p as the Magners cider owner said it was acquiring the wholesale arm of  beleaguered firm Conviviality through a pre-pack administration.

Entertainment One shares fell 5p to 280p as the firm said its brands would be impacted by high street challenges, following the closures of Toys R Us in the US and UK.

Topps Tiles tumbled 10.7p to 69.8p after reporting a 2.2% slump in second-quarter like-for-like sales which it blamed on a combination of extreme weather, the timing of Easter and a softening of the underlying market.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were WM Morrison Supermarkets up 6.1p at 218.4p, Shire up 92.5p at 3,600p, Imperial Brands up 62.5p at 2,506p, and Smurfit Kappa Group up 74p at 3,002p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were GKN down 17.7p at 428.5p, Anglo American down 52p at 1,587.8p, Glencore down 11.25p at 345p, and Mediclinic International down 17.4p at 556p.

Press Association