BUSINESS CLOSE: M&S and Tesco raise forecasts on Christmas trade; Asos limps through end of 2021; US inflation at four-decade high
The FTSE 100 index closed up just 0.2 per cent, or 12.1 points, at 7,563.85, while the more UK-focused FTSE 250 finished down 0.4 per cent, or 88.68 points, at 22,958.48.
Marks & Spencer has boosted its profit outlook after reporting a strong Christmas performance, with the retailer now anticipating full-year pre-tax profits of at least £500million.
Tesco also raised its profit outlook in response to a rise in Christmas sales, despite a tough comparative with 2020 when spending was boosted by a Covid-19 lockdown.
Online fashion retailer ASOS reiterated its already downgraded outlook after supply chain constraints and volatile demand limited sales growth in its four months to 31 December trading period.
It posted total sales growth of 5 per cent, following a 22 per cent rise in the year to the end of August, and said gross margin fell to 43 per cent driven by a need to discount goods and higher freight costs.
The cost of living in the US is rising at the fastest pace for 40 years, with consumer price inflation hitting 7 per cent in December.
Price rises in the US will come as a worry to other countries, including the UK, which are closely intertwined with the world’s largest economy.
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M&S cheered strong Christmas trading as it boosted its full-year profit outlook