Here are the top business, market and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe and abroad:
Ted Baker’s profits slide
Fashion brand Ted Baker (TED.L) has reported a 26.1% drop in pre-tax profits to £50.9m for the year to January 26. Revenue was up 4.4% to £617.4m in the period.
Acting chief executive Lindsay Page said: “Ted Baker has continued to grow across each of the brand’s distribution channels despite difficult trading conditions across a number of the group’s global markets.
“This resilient sales performance again reflects the strength of the brand, the talent of our teams, and the quality of our collections.”
The results come after Ted Baker lost its CEO and founder Ray Kelvin at the start of the year. Kelvin took a leave of absence in December after reports of inappropriate workplace behaviour, including “forced hugging.” An independent investigation is ongoing but Kelvin agreed to resign at the start of the month.
Next warns on the year ahead
Retailer Next (NXT.L) reported a 0.4% fall in pre-tax profits to £722.9m for the year to January and said the high street is set to remain “challenging” in 2019.
The group said it expects profits to “blahally” decline by around 1.1% to £715m in 2019, despite forecasting higher sales as online trade continues to offset high street woes.
“Our core strategy remains unchanged; focus on our customers, products and profitability, continuing to build on the capabilities of our brand and Online Platform and returning surplus cash to our shareholders,” chairman Michael Roney said.
Bank of England rates decision
The Bank of England is due to make its latest interest rates decision at 12.30pm UK time today.
The central bank is expected to hold the main interest rate unchanged at 0.75% amid continuing Brexit-related uncertainty.
“Short of passing the deal, getting a long extension, or revoking article 50, the UK will leave without a deal just over a week from now, with another rejection of the deal by MPs likely to up the stakes even further,” Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in an email. “Against this backdrop the Bank of England meets today and it will be little surprise to anyone that they will leave monetary policy unchanged.”
It comes after the US Federal Reserve held interest rates unchanged on Wednesday evening and signalled that it is unlikely to raise rates again this year.
The pound has been particularly volatile over the last 24-hours amid continued Brexit uncertainty.
Sterling fell just over 1% against the euro late on Wednesday after Theresa May blamed MPs for the failure of her deal, signalled she would not ask for a long Brexit extension, and ruled out calling a second referendum. The pound was slightly better against the dollar, supported by dollar weakness following the Fed decision.
“Though sterling steadied somewhat on Thursday, the currency remained in a bad way after Wednesday evening’s Tusk telling-off and May’s delusional statement to the nation,” Connor Campbell, an analyst with SpreadEx, said in an email.
Allied Irish Bank summed it by headlining their morning note on currency markets: “New day, but same Brexit mess.”
Accounts filed with Companies House this week show that the investment bank’s UK-based charity, Goldman Sachs Gives, donated £19.8m to various charities in the 12-months to 30 June 2018. The charity made 628 grants in the period.
The biggest grant, worth £2m, went to the University of Cambridge. Goldman also gave half a million pounds to Cambridge in America, which supports the university and its alumni in the United States of America.
Asian markets were mixed overnight. Japan’s Nikkei 225 (^N225) closed up by 0.2%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index (^HSI) was down by 0.8%, and China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) was up by 0.3%.
What to expect in the US
Companies reporting in the US later today include:
- Nike (NKE)