Fashion retailer Next said Next Brand sales for the first half of the financial year were up 10.7%, of which 2.4% came from the opening of profitable new space. Next Retail sales were up 7.5% and Next Directory was up 16.2%.
Sales are currently ahead of the 5.5% - 9.5% full year growth guidance given in April. Next is therefore raising and narrowing the sales guidance range for the year to 7% - 10%.
It might appear overly cautious to forecast a full year sales range which is below the current rate of growth.
Renowned fund manager Neil Woodford has been thrashing the market for a quarter of a century. Woodford is a very selective stockpicker. Fewer than 1 in 10 of the UK's top 350 companies earn a place in his funds. So I always keep an eye on his holdings for promising investment ideas.
News emerged this week that Sports Direct (LSE:SPD) will enter a joint venture in Australia and New Zealand, thereby increasing its international exposure. Indeed, Sports Direct needed positive news flow, after market sentiment had weakened over the last few weeks in response to shareholder discontent at the scale of Mike Ashley's potential bonus.
Investors in Dunelm (LSE:DNLM) have had a tough time in recent months, with shares in the homeware retailer sliding by 20% in the last three months. However, the company continues to perform well and this week released an upbeat set of fourth-quarter results that showed a pickup in sales in the final quarter of its financial year, which contributed to an increase in net profit of 7% for the year.
Although the Bank of England expressed surprise recently that the market was not expecting an interest rate increase in 2014, the speed at which it will raise rates looks set to be anything but rapid. For instance, MPC member Ian McCafferty was quoted last week as saying that rates should not go up too quickly, and one way to achieve this would be to begin raising them sooner rather than later.
The FTSE opened lower with falls in a string of retail-related and financial stocks following a positive session on Wall St overnight on Friday, and a mixed performance on key Asian indices heading into this morning.
Approaching 9 a.m., the FTSE 100 was down 29.69 points, or 0.44%, to 6795.51, while the FTSE 250 was down 103.51 points, or 0.66%, to 15,687.9.
In the US overnight on Friday, the Dow rose 26 points to 16,947, while the Nasdaq rose 9 points to 4368. The S&P500 followed suit, adding 4 points to 1963.