George Salmon, Equity Analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown:Primark owner Associated British Foods is up 5% after full year earnings came in slightly above expectations this morning. The group guided for progress in earnings next year too, with the outlook in the sugar business looking sweeter. The main event remains Primark, however, and expansion here continues apace. A further 1.3m sq ft of sales space is to open next year. Marks and Spencer is among the fallers this morning, dropping 2% after half year results. The latest plans to revive the struggling retailer are to trim the UK and international store estate, and focus growth even more on food. This seems a sensible strategy, but closing 60 clothing and home stores brings some chunky costs. While the interim dividend is maintained, M&S says special dividends are out of the equation for the time being. With volumes still falling it’s good to see Imperial Brands investing behind its brands. However, that investment will eat into performance next year, sending the shares down 2.4% this morning.
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Chris Saint, Senior Analyst, HL Currency Service:
"The pound is little changed on the day against both the euro and US dollar, trading slightly above $1.24 and €1.12 by noon. All eyes are now on the US election and barring any unexpected delays we should get to know the final result by around 5.00am UK time tomorrow. The latest polls continue to suggest Clinton holds a narrow lead but the big question is how reliable these will turn out to be. As the surprise outcome, a Trump victory is likely to elicit the more volatile reaction across currency and stock markets alike. A disappointing 0.4% drop in UK industrial production in September met little response from sterling earlier this morning."
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