Britain’s retail sector defied expectations and continued to contract last month, marking the longest spell of no growth since comparable records began in 1957 and adding to pressure on the Bank of England to cut interest rates.
Wall Street struck a trio of fresh records and the S&P 500 closed above 3,300 for the first time, boosted by tech and financial stocks and as investors remained upbeat in the wake of the US-China trade truce.
Manufacturing activity on the east coast of the US picked up at the start of 2020, with an index tracking the sector rising to its highest level in eight months and stirring hopes for one of the highest-profile laggards in the domestic economy.
Morgan Stanley chief executive James Gorman wowed investors with significantly higher shareholder return targets on Thursday after the bank reported record annual earnings and a 46 per cent jump in fourth-quarter profits thanks to a boom in trading.
The consultancy accused of helping to arrange a fraudulent $184m loan for oil explorer Lekoil says it has launched its own investigation into the deal, which is fast becoming an embarrassment for London’s lightly regulated AIM market.
Pearson warned of a fall in profits and revealed the departure of its chief finance officer, further complicating the struggling company’s turnround plans a month after chief executive John Fallon announced he would step down this year.
US wholesale inflation remained subdued in December, weighed down by a stagnation in prices for services and reflecting the soft inflationary conditions in the domestic economy that underpin the Federal Reserve’s forecast to keep interest rates steady in 2020.