“The FTSE100 opened on the front foot on what could be its 14th consecutive day of posting new all-time closing highs. Investors will be looking to the Bank of England's credit conditions survey mid-morning while this afternoon the focus will be on US retail sales, PPI and inflation figures, among a raft of data due out stateside,” says AJ Bell Investment Director Russ Mould.
“Property services group Countrywide has increased its full year revenues despite a slowdown in the residential sales market. Countrywide’s retail and London divisions have been hit by lower market volumes which have been partially offset by a strong performance from its lettings business. There was also growth from the group’s financial services and surveying businesses. Countrywide’s shares were up by more than 5.4% in early trading.
“Pub group Mitchells & Butlers had a merry Christmas with like-for-like sales up by 4.7%, an encouraging performance which builds on the positive momentum from earlier in the year. The group, which owns the Harvester, Toby Carvery, All Bar One chains, is starting to see benefits from a range of initiatives which it continues to put in place and remains on course to deliver its strategic priorities. Mitchells & Butlers’ shares were up by over 4.8%.
“Builders’ merchant and DIY group Grafton was one of the top FTSE250 risers after a bullish year-end update highlighting a strong performance from the merchanting division which accounts for 92% of revenues. The group’s Selco division outperformed the merchanting market with good revenue gains in established branches and growth from new branches. The current programme of expansion, which reflects the success of Selco's trade only model, will continue this year with the planned opening of at least 10 branches. Grafton’s shares were up by more than 5.2%.”
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