From Black Friday to Cyber or Mega Monday – the marketing machine to promote Christmas shopping was in full swing yesterday, but the stock market resembled meagre Monday as a series of downgrades and margin warnings hit the retail sector.
The supermarkets were one of the biggest casualties. HSBC followed warnings of falling sales at Tesco from analysts at Deutsche Bank, Barclays and Shore Capital. The warnings mean it is likely Tesco's quarter will have disappointed, which doesn't bode well for the entire sector. HSBC downgraded it to underweight and gave it a 340p price target; shares responded by tumbling 7.05p to 340.9p. Rivals Sainsbury's, down 10.6p to 396.25p, and Morrison, down 6p to 259.5p, were out of favour with investors too.
A squeeze on margins will also be a worry for mid-tier listed Debenhams, Barclays cautioned, and said the department store's "online offering lags behind competitors". It was 3.8p weaker at 92.95p. Also out of favour was bike and car accessory chain Halfords after JP Morgan cut it to neutral. It reversed 19.4p to 469p. Very few retailers were among the gainers yesterday, but pile it high and sell it cheap specialist Sports Direct scored a 5p gain to 743.5p, as investors betted trading remained strong.
Poor commodity prices dragged miners lower with metal digger Fresnillo the worst faller on the benchmark index, off 73p to 760p. The wider market followed Europe's lead and fell into the red and the FTSE 100 declined 55.24 points to 6,595.33.
Pharmaceutical group Shire agreed a new supply deal for its hyperactivity treatment drug but it flopped down 63p to 2,709p as analysts at UBS cut their forecast to neutral.
Oxford Instruments' 500p a share offer has been rejected by scientific camera maker Andor Technologies which said it will now "evaluate strategic alternatives". Investors waited to see if a new suitor would emerge. Oxford added 11p to 1,517p and Andor added 17p to 502.5p.
Ixico, the renamed and relaunched version of Aim listed Phytopharm, added 4.5p to 48.5p.