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FTSE 100 flat following retail sales slump

The FTSE 100 barely moved today with major news about lockdowns set to come the other side of the weekend. NatWest and Segro both announced end of year results along with positive news regarding dividend payouts, while the pound continued to strengthen against the dollar. 

“Unsurprising news that retail sales slumped significantly in January thanks to the latest lockdown left the FTSE 100 struggling for direction on Friday, broadly unmoved at a little above the 6,600 mark,” says AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

“The run for sterling towards the $1.40 mark against the dollar reflects, in part, optimism about what a rapid vaccine roll-out would mean for reopening in the UK, setting quite high expectations ahead of Boris Johnson’s statement on the easing of restrictions on Monday,” Mould added.

FTSE 100 movers

At the summit of the FTSE 100 at mid-morning on Friday is Antofagasta (3.41%), Evaz (3.23%) and Rolls-Royce (2.76%). 

AstraZeneca (-1.82%), RELX Group (-1.27%) and Berkley Group (-1.15%) were the biggest fallers.

Natwest

NatWest posted a pre-tax loss of £351m as the bank announced a phased withdrawal from Ireland. Natwest’s loss represents a huge swing from a profit of £4.2bn a year ago. The change is a result of £3.2bn of loans being written off down to fears they may not be repaid. 

The FTSE 100 bank will pay out a £364m dividend for the year at 3p per share, however £225m will go to the UK government, the majority owner of the bank.

Segro

Segro saw its profits soar as the boom in online retail raised demand for warehouse space during the pandemic. The company’s pre-tax profit rose by 62% to £1.5bn, up from £902m the year before.

The FTSE 100 property company confirmed a final year dividend of 15.2p, up by 5.6% from 14.4p.

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