London open: Stocks muted as investors mull retail sales, confidence data
London stocks were little changed in early trade on Friday as investors mulled retail sales data and the latest reading on UK consumer confidence.
At 0850 BST, the FTSE 100 was down just 0.1% at 7,532.00.
Figures released earlier by the Office for National Statistics showed that retail sales unexpectedly rose in July, boosted by online shopping.
Retail sales were up 0.3% following a 0.2% fall in June, and versus expectations for a 0.2% decline. On the year, however, retail sales were 3.4% lower, compared to expectations for a 3.3% decline.
Sales volumes were 2.3% above their pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels, but down over the past year.
The data showed that non-store retailing - namely online retailers - saw sales rise 4.8% on the month in July thanks to a range of promotions.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: "The summer sunshine brought a slight uplift in sales. Summer clothing, air conditioning appliances and outdoor foods all benefitted from record temperatures, but most retailers will still be seeing falling volumes in the face of rising inflation.
"Consumer confidence has hit new lows as inflation soared past 10% and talk of a recession has grown. The Bank of England expects inflation to reach over 13% in October when energy bills rise again, further limiting discretionary spending for struggling households. For many businesses, 2022 is proving to be every bit as challenging as the pandemic."
Elsewhere, the latest survey from GfK showed that consumer confidence fell to a fresh record low in August amid surging inflation.
GfK’s consumer sentiment index dipped three points from July to -44.0 - the lowest level since records began in 1974.
Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, said: "These findings point to a sense of capitulation, of financial events moving far beyond the control of ordinary people. With headline after headline revealing record inflation eroding household buying power, the strain on the personal finances of many in the UK is alarming. Just making ends meet has become a nightmare and the crisis of confidence will only worsen with the darkening days of autumn and the colder months of winter."
Corporate news was thin on the ground.
Vodafone was a touch firmer following a report that Canadian pension fund Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ) is in talks with the company to buy its residual 21% stake in Indus Towers, India’s largest mobile tower installation company.
Elsewhere, Joules shares slid more than 30% after the fashion retailer warned that it expects to deliver a pre-tax loss for the full year, "significantly" below current market forecasts, following recent soft trading.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 914.40p 1.49%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,044.50p 1.06%
GSK (GSK) 1,415.60p 0.97%
BT Group (BT.A) 158.45p 0.76%
Relx plc (REL) 2,434.00p 0.66%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 122.28p 0.59%
Avast (AVST) 690.20p 0.44%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 11,062.00p 0.44%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RKT) 6,542.00p 0.43%
National Grid (NG.) 1,172.00p 0.39%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Entain (ENT) 1,339.00p -2.41%
Bunzl (BNZL) 3,096.00p -2.03%
Howden Joinery Group (HWDN) 645.60p -2.00%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,486.50p -1.98%
Kingfisher (KGF) 243.90p -1.65%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 409.60p -1.61%
Rightmove (RMV) 631.20p -1.56%
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 11,170.00p -1.54%
Next (NXT) 6,236.00p -1.52%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 3,530.00p -1.40%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Grainger (GRI) 297.60p 2.48%
NCC Group (NCC) 219.00p 2.34%
Helios Towers (HTWS) 140.80p 1.59%
Molten Ventures (GROW) 431.60p 1.51%
Ruffer Investment Company Ltd Red PTG Pref Shares (RICA) 300.00p 1.35%
ASOS (ASC) 820.50p 1.30%
Convatec Group (CTEC) 240.80p 1.18%
HGCapital Trust (HGT) 384.00p 1.05%
Apax Global Alpha Limited (APAX) 190.00p 0.96%
Auction Technology Group (ATG) 898.00p 0.90%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
FDM Group (Holdings) (FDM) 762.00p -8.08%
Marshalls (MSLH) 392.40p -7.01%
Darktrace (DARK) 528.80p -2.51%
FirstGroup (FGP) 108.80p -2.42%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 499.40p -2.19%
Tyman (TYMN) 235.00p -2.08%
Investec (INVP) 441.10p -2.00%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 141.30p -1.94%
Morgan Advanced Materials (MGAM) 284.50p -1.90%
TP Icap Group (TCAP) 155.60p -1.89%