Market Report: Retailers set for 'panic Saturday' ahead of Christmas week


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The Independent Online

It’s ‘panic Saturday’ this weekend, according to the flacks paid to make up this sort of thing, with Brits set to spend millions on everything from crackers to gravy ready for Christmas.

Cheap and cheerful Aldi and Lidl are increasingly favoured by shoppers but Shore Capital’s retail bod Clive Black thinks quality will out, particularly at this time of year.

In a note on Tesco, Black forecast a seasonal uplift for the supermarket as shoppers favour a less stressful experience over value. Black was impressed with Tesco’s improved customer service on a recent trip to “buy a bottle of Bushmills for my daughter’s retiring art teacher”.

Looking into the new year, Black reckons discounters will also have a tougher job continuing to win customers at the current rate of knots and says Tesco is “smart” to develop “a clear point of difference” in the form of customer service. Tesco jumped 7.65p to 175.8p.

The Santa Rally has finally arrived, with the Footsie jumping over 2 per cent yesterday. The jump was sparked by signs that the US Federal Reserve will hold off on interest rate rises despite the improving economic outlook. The FTSE 100 rose 129.52 points to 6466.

The news from the Fed also sparked a rally for the rand against the dollar and that helped SABMiller rise 178.5p to 3374.5p. The Peroni brewer has significant operations in South Africa. The rouble’s weakness continued to hurt bottling firm Coca-Cola HBC, off 20p at 1222p, which gets around a quarter of its profits from Russia.

There were plenty of deals in the software industry – investors emphatically backed Ideagen’s plans to raise £17.5m through a placing to buy software company Gael Limited, which supplies the healthcare, manufacturing and aviation industries. Ideagen, which makes information management software, jumped 3p to 37.5p. And news that Dealertrack has made a £121.6m, or 190p a share, offer for Incadea sent it surging 46.5p to 185p. Incadea makes software for the car industry.

Neil Woodford-backed Mercia Technologies got off to a good start to listed life as shares rose to 55.5p after being priced at 50p.