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Weekly review

By Duncan Ferris

Date: Friday 11 Jan 2019

(Sharecast News) - The FTSE 100 ended the week up by 80.76 points at 6918.18.
Equity view

Customer demand for the finer things boosted Aldi's sales in the UK over Christmas, with the grocer reporting almost £1bn in sales for December, which it put down to demand for its premium lines.

Equiniti won a contract to run the UK media and telecoms watchdog's scheme to compensate users of low-frequency radio spectrum that is being cleared for use in 5G mobile services.

Eli Lilly agreed to buy Loxo Oncology for approximately $8bn (£6.2bn) in cash, broadening its portfolio of cancer treatments.

BP said it was planning a $1.3bn expansion at the Atlantis field in the Gulf of Mexico, adding that it had identified an extra one billion barrels of oil at an existing field.

Swedish chemicals group Sika has made an offer to acquire French rival Parex for 2.5bn Swiss francs (£2bn) from current owner CVC Capital Partners.

The Home Office awarded its asylum accommodation and support services contracts to Mears and Serco.

Morrisons retail sales growth over the festive period seemed to disappoint investors, despite the grocer beating analyst forecasts and notching up its fourth consecutive Christmas of growth.

Takeda Pharmaceutical has taken full control of Shire after the legal particulars of its cash and share offer were completed.

Sainsbury's reported a fall in revenues over the past 15 weeks due to a slump in general merchandise sales, which the grocer blamed on cautious customer spending and a decision to reduce Black Friday promotions.

Fashion brand Ted Baker - which was recently rocked by harassment claims against founder Ray Kelvin - posted a jump in sales over the Christmas period on Wednesday as its online segment performed well.

House builder Taylor Wimpey said it would report 2018 full year results in line with expectations as the housing market remained stable despite uncertainties caused by Brexit.

Greggs said it had a "strong" finish to the year in its fourth quarter trading update on Wednesday, reporting total sales growth of 7.2%, with company-managed shop like-for-like sales growing by 2.9%.

Jaguar Land Rover unveiled a cost savings plan on Thursday that will see cuts of up to 5,000 jobs in the UK.

Grocery sector market leader Tesco outshone its big four listed rivals over Christmas, with sales growth that exceeded the market and analysts' forecasts.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars warned parliament to avoid a disorderly Brexit or it could mean lack of necessary materials and risk a halt in is production in its factory in southern England.

Staff at John Lewis may not be getting their bonus this year, the retailer said on Thursday, as it continues to expect "substantially" lower full-year profit despite a decent Christmas performance.

Lidl enjoyed a decent uptick in its Christmas sales in 2018, it announced on Friday, as British shoppers hunted for luxury products at bargain prices.

British regional airline Flybe Group on Friday agreed a 1p-a-share takeover by a consortium made up of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital Partners valuing the company at £2.2m.

Fast fashion brand Quiz warned over full-year revenue and profits on Friday following a difficult Christmas period.

Debenhams chief executive and chairman have been voted off the board after its largest shareholder ambushed the embattled department store group at its annual general meeting.

Economic news

A painful Christmas period might be made even more unbearable for some retailers this month, according to fresh research which suggests one in four Christmas presents would be returned to the seller.

More than 75% of UK manufacturers said post-Brexit border delays would be a risk for their business, an industry group survey said on Monday.

Heathrow airport announced on Tuesday plans to add an extra 25,000 flights before its third runway is built as it launched a new consultation over its operations.

Rising energy demand and travel chaos could be on the horizon as forecasters warn the UK may soon be plunged into sub-zero temperatures in a repeat of last year's 'Beast-from-the-East'.

UK employers hired permanent staff in December at the slowest rate since April the year before as they struggle to find appropriate staff for the post, a report revealed on Wednesday.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ramped up calls on Thursday for a general election to "break the deadlock" over Brexit.

A warning over the lack of provisions to ensure flights between the European Union and Britain continue in a "no-deal" Brexit scenario has been voiced by the head of air transport group the International Air Transport Association.

Retailers in the UK suffered their worst Christmas in a decade last month amid worries about Brexit and weak consumer confidence, according to data released by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG.

Britain's exit from the European Union could be pushed back from the current 29 March deadline, according to a report on Friday.

UK gross domestic product growth slowed towards the end of last year as the contraction of the industrial sector deepened, official figures confirmed on Friday.

International events

Activity in the US services sector deteriorated more than expected in December, according to data released on Monday.

The digital currency Ethereum lost up to £400,000 worth of tokens in a rare cyber "51% attack" that has raised questions about its security.

American and Chinese negotiators have reportedly made progress in talks, including on purchases of US goods and services, but the two sides are still not ready to finalise a deal.

US President Donald Trump used his first televised address to the American people to blame Democrats for the continuing government shutdown, now the second longest in history.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are set to sign an extension of their 55-year-old reconciliation treaty on 22 January to try and strengthen the EU against forces trying to tear it apart.

The euro-zone unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in 10 years in November, according to figures released by Eurostat on Wednesday.

China's commerce ministry said on Thursday that trade talks with the US had progressed positively over issues such as forced technology transfers and intellectual property rights.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped more than expected last week, according to data from the Labor Department.

US consumer prices fell back just as expected last month amid a sharp drop in energy costs but, according to analysts, amid broad-based inflationary pressures at the core level.

A report from Poland's TVP on Friday said a Huawei employee has been arrested by Polish counterintelligence agents over alleged spying activities, a month after a row erupted over the Canadian arrest of the daughter of the Chinese tech firm's founder.

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