A tale of two retail sectors: Shares in fashion retailers fall as supermarkets jump

Emma Haslett
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Retail: It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness (Source: Getty)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times in the retail sector today, as shares in retailers led both the risers and the fallers in the FTSE 100.

Firmly in the spring of hope was the supermarket sector, where Morrisons led the risers, with shares jumping 7.13 per cent to 207.4p in early trading after a stonking set of results showing a 1.4 per cent increase in revenues in the first half of the year.

That pulled Tesco up 2.8 per cent to 166.25p, while Sainsbury's rose 1.66 per cent to 239p.

But enduring a winter of despair were high street clothing retailers, who were dragged lower by Next. Its shares fell 5.05 per cent to 4,948p after results showed pre-tax profits fell 1.5 per cent to £342.1m in the six months to July.

That pushed Marks & Spencer down 3.85 per cent to 306.45p. It probably didn't help that John Lewis, which isn't listed but is regarded as a bellwether of the chattering classes, also unveiled disappointing results, later warning that it may be forced to make job cuts.

All of this served to keep the FTSE 100 completely flat, at 6,672 points.

All eyes are now on the Bank of England's interest rate decision, later today.

In the wake of the Brexit vote last month, it cut the base rate to 0.25 per cent and increased quantitative easing, but analysts don't expect it to make further changes today.

"Two months is a short period of time to evaluate the medium, long-term economic implications of [the EU referendum]," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior market analyst at LCG.

"Brexit’s impacts on the real economy will be gradual as the country will progressively interrupt its existing relationship with the European Union, and build new partnerships almost from scratch depending on how much the political and legal environment will evolve.

"Hopefully, the astounding recovery in the business sentiment will buy some time for the BoE before it feels the fresh need to expand its stimuli program to avoid a potential recession in the coming quarters."

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