UK stocks closed higher on Tuesday spurred on by data that showed a surge in UK payrolls in April, which contrasted with disappointing US retail sales figures which fell 0.7% compared with expectations of a 0.2% gain.
Meanwhile US producer prices came in as expected at 4.8% year-on-year. The Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting to decide on interest rate policy and is expected to keep its loose monetary stance despite a pick-up in inflationary pressures.
At the close the FTSE 100 index was up 0.4% to 7,172 points led by consumer stocks such as Primark owner AB Foods (ABF), fast-food delivery firm Just Eat Takeaway (JET) and DIY retailer Kingfisher (KGF).
Operating earnings rose 95% in the fourth quarter, reducing the full year fall to 3%, showing the resilience of the business in difficult markets. The shares added 0.6% to £51.16.
House builder Bellway (BWY) reported a 51% increase in weekly reservations for the period from the start of February to the start of June and a 20.5% rise in the value of its order book to £1.89 billion.
Due to the strength of demand, the firm now sees its average selling price topping £300,000 for the first time, although completions in the second half will be lower than the first half. The shares dipped 0.3% to £34.69.
The contract includes £66 million of revenue for 2022 which qualifies for inclusion in the order book, unlike previous contract wins. The shares lost 1.5% to 39.1p.
Online fashion group Boohoo (BOO:AIM) released a trading update for the quarter to the end of May showing 32% growth in revenues and a gross margin of 55%, down 0.6% on last year but consistent with pre-pandemic levels.
The Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton brands are being integrated into the firm’s multi-brand platform, but due to continuing ‘uncertainty’ in some markets there is no change to guidance for the year to next February. The shares added 1.1% to 332p.
Holiday firm On the Beach (OTB:AIM) posted a predictably weak set of results for the six months to March, with revenues on a generally accepted accounting principle (GAAP) basis down 79% and gross profits down 51%.
The group decided in early May not to take holiday bookings for departure before 1 September, a move which is looking increasingly prescient given the government’s tinkering with the ‘traffic light’ system for overseas countries. The shares dropped 2.9% to 348.5p.
While jewellery sales were up, pawnbroking income fell as customers repaid their loans during lockdown and foreign currency sales were heavily impacted by travel restrictions. The shares dropped 2.6% to 153.5p.
Specialist engineering firm Pressure Technologies (PRES:AIM) delivered a small rise in sales and moved to an operating profit during the six months to the start of April thanks to a strong order book from the defence industry.
The firm reported improving momentum in the hydrogen storage and refuelling market with Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) placing its first order and another order expected ‘imminently’. Curiously, the shares dropped 9.2% to 88.6p in response.
Growth was helped by existing customers who saw a surge in usage of their digital channels during lockdown, as well as new client additions. Still, the shares sank 4.5% to 884p.
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