“Blue-chips opened timidly as investors continued to consider the upcoming UK general election alongside wider geopolitical issues and the stronger pound weighed on the index. In the absence of any UK financial data today investors will look to EU consumer confidence figures and later the Conference Board’s Leading Index for the US,” says AJ Bell Investment Director Russ Mould.
“High street giant Debenhams has set out a new strategy which will put greater emphasis on its online offering. Chief executive Sergio Bucher, who joined from Amazon with a remit to shake-up the way the group does business, wants Debenhams to become a destination for 'social shopping' with mobile the unifying platform for interacting with customers. Debenhams’ first half pre-tax profits fell by 6.4% to £87.8m but its UK online performance driven by mobile orders was up 64%. Debenhams’ shares were down by over 2.8% in early trading.
“Unilever pleased investors with a 12% increase in the quarterly dividend after first quarter turnover rose by 6.1% to €13.3bn. Unilever has continued to achieve growth ahead of its markets with the results reflecting its investment in both innovations and brand support. Unilever’s shares were up by 1.7%.
“Transport group Go-Ahead was one of the FTSE250’s biggest risers after it maintained its full year forecasts for both its bus and rail divisions. GTR service levels have stabilised following prolonged periods of industrial action and talks with unions are continuing with the aim of resolving the ongoing disputes. Go-Ahead’s shares were up by more than 6% in early trading.”
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