LONDON (SHARECAST) - The FTSE 100 nudged lower in early trading on Wednesday despite a decent start for retailers, as investors pause for breath following yesterday's sharp rise, which was sparked by the announcement that Fitch does not intend to downgrade France this year.
After a strong showing yesterday, the heavyweight mining sector pulled back with Kazakhmys, Antofagasta and Randgold Resources on the decline.
In economic new, overall UK shop price inflation slowed to 1.7% in December, from 2.0% in November, according to the latest data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: "This is a good bit of New Year news for customers. Even before the impact of last January's VAT rise comes out of the year-on-year comparisons, shop price inflation has reached a 16 month low of 1.7%.
GOOD SHOWING FOR RETAILERS
Confirmation that supermarket chain Sainsbury has regained its mojo came in the form of the group's best ever Christmas sales performance, which topped the market's expectations. Shares nudged higher in early trade after the firm said that sales in the 14 weeks to January 7th rose 7% year-on-year. Sector peer Tesco rose in sympathy, while Morrison fell in the red.
Sainsbury wasn't the only retailer to issue an upbeat statement: trendy fashion firm SuperGroup was higher after seeing sales jump 22% between the end of October and the beginning of January; while bakery group Greggs was in the blue after saying that like-for-like sales rose 5.1% in the five weeks to January 7th.
Meanwhile, internet and catalogue home shopping specialist N. Brown was in demand after saying that trading picked up in December after flat performance in October and November.
Moneysupermarket, the FTSE 250 price comparison website firm, was a high riser after seeing revenue growth quicken from 14% in the third quarter to 19% in the fourth. Full-year revenues are expected to be 20% higher than the year before.
In other company news, engineering peers AMEC and Babcock fell despite their joint venture (along with Mott MacDonald Group) winning a five-year extension to their current Electricity Alliance West contract with National Grid. The extension is worth £650m and the two firms have a 47.5% interest each.
Gas giant BG Group was on the up on reports that it has received six to seven preliminary bids for its 65% stake in India's Gujarat Gas in a deal worth $900m.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 3,393.00p +1.13%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 1,140.00p +0.71%
Capita (CPI) 653.50p +0.69%
Barclays (BARC) 189.45p +0.61%
Standard Life (SL.) 204.90p +0.59%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 179.75p +0.56%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 109.60p +0.55%
Man Group (EMG) 108.90p +0.55%
ICAP (IAP) 322.90p +0.53%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 271.80p +0.52%