Home Retail Group drops 14 percent on declining sales at Argos stores

| June 9, 2011 | 0 Comments
Home Retail Group drops 14 percent on declining sales at Argos stores

European equities markets were higher Thursday after both the European Central Bank and the Bank of England held interest rates steady, at 1.25 percent and 0.5 percent respectively, although ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet hinted that it could raise rates next month when he warned that “strong vigilance” is needed to keep a rein on inflation in the region.

The FTSE 100 added 0.82 percent to 5,856.34 in London, while the FTSE 250 was up 0.34 percent to 11,911.6 as most sectors saw gains, including an all-higher utilities sector and a chemicals sector that only saw one decline, while miners and insurers each saw only two decliners, and the energy and media sectors each had only three decliners, although banks, the telecommunications sector and travel and leisure companies were mixed.

Although mixed overall, the retail sector provided the top three decliners on the 250, led by Home Retail Group (LSE: HOME), which dropped 13.74 percent on declines in sales at its Argos general merchandise catalog stores that have been open at least a year, followed by an 8.91 percent retreat for consumer electronics retailer Dixons Retail (LSE: DXNS) while JD Sports Fashion (LSE: JD) was down 4.13 percent.

Travel agents declined in the mixed travel and leisure sector as Thomas Cook Group (LSE: TCG) was the biggest loser in the sector as it dropped 2.67 percent, while TUT Travel (LSE: TT) was down 2.02 percent and led declines on the 100.

Engineers Weir Group (LSE: WEIR) was the best performer on the 100, adding 4.81 percent, while miner Anglo Pacific Group (LSE: APF) gained 5.65 percent to lead gainers on the 250.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.91 percent to 1,104.25 while the IBEX added 0.39 percent to 10.121.7, the CAC-40 was 1.06 percent higher to 3,878.65 and the Dax gained 1.41 percent to 7,159.66.

Most markets were lower in the Asia-Pacific region after the US Federal Reserve said that the economy is slowing down in some parts of the United States.

Tokyo’s markets were mixed as the Nikkei 225 added 0.19 percent to 9.467.15 but the Topix index was down 0.18 percent to 812.95 and the Mothers market dropped 0.15 percent to 464 on the news that Japan’s gross domestic product for the first quarter didn’t contract quite as much as first thought, pulling back 3.5 percent instead of the earlier report that it had contracted by 3.7 percent.

Tokyo Electric Power (TYO; 9501) was in focus again, ending the session down 4 percent after losing as much as 26 percent earlier in the day after the power failed for a time at it’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant, temporarily interrupting efforts to stop leaks of radioactive water from damaged reactors.

Carmakers were lower, while game console maker Nintendo (TYO: 7974) dropped 4.6 percent on a downgrade from “buy” to “neutral” from UBS after analysts did not like a new game console the company launched at a trade show in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Australia’s markets managed gains as the S&P/ASX200 and the Sydney Ordinaries each added 0.28 percent, to 4,549.6 and 4,621.7 respectively, but India’s Sensex was down 0.05 percent to 18,384.9, the Taiex fell 0.07 percent to 9,000.94 in Taiwan, Singapore’s Straits Times Index was 0.17 percent lower to 3,097.57, the Hang Seng dropped 0.23 percent to 22,609.8 in Hong Kong, South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.57 percent to 2,071.42 and the Shanghai Composite was 1.71 percent lower on concerns that the Chinese government will tighten monetary policy again, with the real estate sector especially hard-hit by the prospect of higher interest rates.

New York equities markets were higher after the US Commerce Department reported that the US trade deficit unexpected narrowed by 6.7 percent, to $43.7 billion, although the Labor Department did have news that was as good, saying that first time unemployment claims in the US were up by 1,000 last week to 427,000 against an expected decline.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.95 percent to 12,163.8 at shortly before 1 p.m. in New York, while the S&P 500 had added 0.94 percent to 1,291.62 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.57 percent higher to 2,690.69.

Crude oil prices were higher, with West Texas Intermediate crude up $1.02 to $101.76 per barrel in midday trade in New York, while Brent crude was lately up $1.35 to $119.20 per barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

In New York metals trade, gold and silver were both higher, but copper was down less than a cent to $4.10 per pound.

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