Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:
Beleaguered fashion chain Superdry (SDRY.L) announced on Wednesday that pre-tax profits fell by almost 57% to £41.9 million in its most recent financial year, just three months after founder Julian Dunkerton won his six-month battle to rejoin the company.
After tax, the company lost £85.4m, down from a profit of £65.3 million in 2018, primarily due to £129.5 million in lease and impairment charges.
Shares were down 4.4% at 8.40am UK time.
The company, which had signalled that earnings would be below market expectations with three profit warnings in eight months, pointed to the “difficult trading landscape for most fashion retailers,” saying that “unseasonably warm weather” led to declining sales.
Brexit hiring slump for Page Group
Shares in recruiter PageGroup (PAGE.L) have slumped 14% after it warned 2019 earnings are set to be towards the lower end of expectations amid “more challenging” economic conditions in the UK and elsewhere.
Gross profits in the UK dropped 2.4% to £35 million in the second quarter.
Kelvin Stagg, chief financial officer of Page, said: “It is clear that macro-economic conditions in a number of our regions are becoming more challenging, and, as such, we currently expect 2019 operating profit to be towards the lower end of the range of current market forecasts.”
Kevin Hanley, RBS’s head of innovation, told journalists on Tuesday: “We’re in discussions with Facebook around Libra and what it might be and where it might go.”
Hanley stressed that no immediate announcements were in the works.
“It has no punchline yet but we’d very much engage and see rather than wait and find out,” he said.
Pub group JD Wetherspoon (JDW.L) rose in early trade after reporting a 6.9% increase in like-for-like sales during the 10 weeks to July 7.
Total sales in the same period were up 6.6% In the year to date, like-for-likes climbed 6.7% and total sales increased 7.4%.
Boss Tim Martin admitted the nature of the UK’s relationship with the EU was “the main issue” for shareholders.
But he said the dichotomy between a deal and a no-deal Brexit was “misleading,” saying leaving without a deal actually meant signing “a multitude of deals” between individuals, firms, governments, and others.
UK GDP due
Month-on-month GDP growth figures are due at 9.30am UK.
Economists are forecasting monthly growth of 0.3% in May, although the broader trend is pointing to a shrinking of the economy by 0.1% in the second quarter.
“Though the monthly UK GDP reading is expected to bounce from -0.4% to 0.3%, it is hard to picture sterling taking too much comfort from that given the dismal, recession-suggesting state of last week’s PMIs,” Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, said. “Ditto the forecast swing from -3.9% to 2.2% in manufacturing production.”
Sterling was down again on Wednesday by 0.12%, keeping it at around the $1.24 mark.
The currency has been sliding over the last week due to figures showing an alarming drop in consumer spending amid continued Brexit uncertainty. Bleak sentiment was compounded by a number of industries warning of the shortages they face amid a no-deal Brexit.
Housebuilder Barratt Developments (BDEV.L) has upped its full-year earnings outlook, saying completions have surged to an 11-year high.
The group delivered 17,111 homes, excluding joint ventures, in the year to June 30 – up 2.6% on the previous year.
It said efforts to boost its margins are set to see pre-tax profits beat market forecasts, at around £910 million – which would mark an 8.9% rise on the previous year.
European stocks mixed
European stock markets were mixed ahead of US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell’s testimony in Washington later today.
Asian markets were mixed overnight. Japan's Nikkei 225 (^N225) ended down by 0.1%, China's benchmark Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) was down by 0.4%, and the Hong Kong's Hang Seng index (^HSI) was up by 0.3%.