London’s FTSE 100 edged 0.1% higher to 7,179.76 just before midday on Wednesday as attention turns to the latest decision on interest rates from the US Federal Reserve later in the day.
All eyes will be on the US central bank as it finishes its two-day meeting, with some analysts predicting it will bring forward its projections for its first post-pandemic interest rate rise by a year to 2023.
The Fed could also hold initial talks about starting to roll back its $120 billion of monthly bond purchases, although any tapering of support is expected to be gradual.
On a busy day for retail news, nearly-new car seller Motorpoint (MOTR) edged 0.4% higher to 280p as resilient full year results showed better than expected pre-tax profits of £9.7 million and the news trading has been strong since branches reopened driving earnings upgrades.
Motorpoint also outlined a bold strategy to at least double total sales to over £2 billion ‘in the medium term’, with ‘an improved margin and strong cash generation as we leverage the operating cost base’, including a target to grow online sales to £1 billion.
Also sitting pretty was value-centric sofas and carpets retailer ScS (SCS), which surged 10% higher to 319p on a surprise update, in which it said trading since re-opening its stores has been very strong and it now expects results for the year to July 2021 will beat market expectations.
Given management’s confidence in the business going forward, ScS also re-introduced dividends and said its outlook for full year 2022 is ‘substantially’ better than current market forecasts.
N BROWN CLOBBERED
Online clothing and homeware retailer N Brown (BWNG:AIM) cheapened 10% to 56.95p after disclosing the potential cost of a spat between its JD Williams subsidiary and Allianz Insurance has been expanded, which if successful could lead to it paying out an additional £36 million of compensation as part of a customer redress exercise.
And fryer management services business Filta (FLTA:AIM) firmed 2.8% to 184p after assuring that the recovery of its business in the UK won’t be impacted by the government’s decision to delay the full reopening by four weeks to July.
IN OTHER NEWS
Elsewhere, online competitions provider Best of the Best (BOTB:AIM) slumped 28% to £18.89 despite declaring a special dividend after reporting that annual profit more than trebled as the company benefitted from its transformation to an online-only operation.
However, investors were spooked as Best of the Best warned it has experienced ‘somewhat of a reduction in customer engagement’ since the latest easing of lockdown restrictions on 12 April 12, ‘specifically relating to the understandably long-awaited re-opening of hospitality and non-essential retail’.
Recruitment software and services company Dillistone (DSG:AIM) was marked down 8.3% to 22p, despite the company expecting to report ‘significantly reduced’ losses in 2021 amid signs of return to normal in several of its markets.