Retail sector lifts FTSE 100 to high

Retail sector lifts FTSE 100 to high”

Morrisons and a buoyant retail sector has led the FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) closer to a new record high this morning.

Marks & Spencer Group (LON:MKS) is now leading the sector higher, having gained 3.57 percent to 321.91p, while shares in Morrisons are changing hands 1.59 percent up at 230.50p.

Morrisons said it improved its performance by having "more tills open, shorter queues, and customers noticed our colleagues' friendliness even at the busiest times".

"Despite input cost pressures on many commodities, the price of a basket of key Christmas items was the same as past year", the company said.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: "Overall supermarket sales increased in value by 3.8 per cent, with an additional £1 billion ringing through the tills compared to the same festive period past year".

Sales were especially strong over the Christmas and New Year period with like for like sales of 3.7% for the same period said the Company in a statement.

The Bradford-based retailer also announced that its previously announced tie-up with convenience store chain McColl's will kick off this month. "Next gave a good update from the clothing and the houseware section, Morrisons is giving a good update for the grocery, so perhaps Marks can benefit twofold there".

The latter was seen as including a late entry into online retailing compared with its major competitors, whereas is now seen as a growing success.

'The only blot on the update is management leaving full-year guidance unchanged, ' said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo markets.

Dulken questioned whether this was due to management conservatism and a desire to engineer a "beat" to expected profits when they are announced in early 2018, or "prudence in the face of still tough conditions for the United Kingdom consumer".

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