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Trending tickers: WH Smith, Inditex, oil, bitcoin

The latest investor updates on stocks that are trending on Wednesday

A general view of a branch of WH Smith in London
WH Smith delivered a positive trading update ahead of its peak summer season. (Philip Toscano, PA Images)

WH Smith gained as much as 3% on Wednesday after it delivered a positive trading update ahead of its summer season.

The retailer said it was well set for the peak summer holiday season as buoyant sales across its travel sites continue to offset slower trading at its high street arm.

The group posted like-for-like sales growth of 4% for the 13 weeks to 1 June, with a 5% rise across global travel stores and a 1% drop for its high street business.

However, there was a slowdown from the 15% sales growth notched up in the first half across its travel shops based in railway stations, airports and hospitals worldwide.

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Read more: FTSE 100 LIVE: European stock markets rise amid US interest rate cut hopes

The company opened five Toys R Us shops-within-shops and is on track to open another 25 by the end of August. WH Smith also expanded its food-to-go ranges, launching the new brand Smiths Family Kitchen at more than 300 sites.

In a statement, the group said: “The transformation of the business to a one-stop-shop for travel essentials is delivering strong results, increasing average transaction values and returns.”

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 08: Nastasia Iavorscaia wears Fendi sunglasses, a black leather biker jacket from Zara Man, a gray H&M t-shirt, a gray lustrous silk midi skirt, black tights, a hair pin / scrunchie, during a street style fashion photo session, on May 08, 2024 in Paris, France. (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)
Inditex is the owner of clothing store Zara as well as other brands including Pull&Bear and Massimo Dutti. (Edward Berthelot via Getty Images)

Inditex, the owner of clothing store Zara, reported a pick-up in recent sales from its Spring/Summer collections, delivering quarterly results in line with expectations.

Sales grew 7% in the first quarter of its financial year, and rose 12% between 1 May and 3 June compared to the same time the year before.

The company, whose brands also include Pull&Bear and Massimo Dutti, added that it expected adverse currency moves to cut 2% from sales this year, up from previous guidance for a 1.5% hit.

Read more: Stocks that are trending today

It is currently fending off intense competition from rivals such as H&M by chasing and delivering fashion trends faster, as well as rapidly growing Chinese-owned online retailers Shein and Temu.

Xavier Brun, portfolio manager at Madrid-based Trea Asset Management, which holds Inditex shares, said Inditex was currently "competing against itself", with a strong performance last year making for a tough comparison this year.

Oil prices were hovering near four-month lows today, before staging a recovery, on an expected supply boost later in the year when OPEC+ begins to unwind some output cuts.

Brent crude futures were up 26 cents, or 0.3%, at $77.78 (£60.91) a barrel this morning while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 24 cents, or 0.3%, to $73.49.

Both contracts fell more than 1% on Tuesday to their lowest settlement levels since early February, having declined by about $3 a barrel on Monday.

It comes after news from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies of plans to increase supply from the fourth quarter despite recent signs of weakening demand growth.

"The abundant supply picture at present undoubtedly is generating queasiness even from those not in the perennial OPEC-sceptic camp," RBC Capital's head of commodities research, Helima Croft, said in a market note.

It comes as three British energy companies have decided to delay the planned start of oil production at their joint-venture oilfield in the North Sea by a year.

Jersey Oil & Gas, which owns 20% of the Buchan field 120 miles northeast of Aberdeen, made the announcement on behalf of the joint venture partners, among them Serica Energy and NEO Energy.

Bitcoin was in focus again on Wednesday after the cryptocurrency rose above the $71,000 level and flirted with a gain for a fifth straight session.

The move reflected greater confidence in global markets about the prospect of US Federal Reserve interest-rate reductions this year. It was also benefiting from high inflows into exchange-traded funds holding the token.

However, on Tuesday, spot Bitcoin ETFs received $886.6m in inflows, according to crypto data firm CoinGlass. This was the best day of inflows since March and the second-largest amount of inflows in a single day since the spot ETFs launched at the start of this year.

Read more: Crypto live prices

Traders are now pricing in a bigger chance of a Fed rate cut as soon as November in the wake of data signalling moderating US inflation and a softer jobs market.

Some Treasury yields registered their largest two-day drops of the year, a loosening in financial conditions that may help speculative assets like crypto.

“Crypto assets are responding positively to the decline in rates,” Tom Couture, digital-asset strategy vice president at Fundstrat Global Advisors, said in a note.

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