ABF shares knocked despite Primark's 'record' Christmas week

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Associated British Foods said sales for the 16 weeks to 6 January 2018 at Primark were 7 per cent ahead of those reported past year at constant currency driven by increased retail selling space.

The company expects its operating margins for the first half of its financial year to be close to those in the same period last year, with better buying offsetting the adverse effect of the weaker sterling / U.S. dollar exchange rate on purchases. Trading in the USA was said to have "continued to make progress".

Elsewhere, revenues from ABF's sugar business dropped 12 per cent year-on-year, leading to a drop in revenue and profit forecasts.

Total sales from at ABF, which also owns grocery brands including Kingsmill and Ryvita, a sugar processing arm, and an agricultural business, were up 4pc.

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The FTSE 100 group said Primark's performance in the week before Christmas hit an all-time high, with sales lifting 7% in the 16 weeks to January 6 once exchange rate changes were stripped out. Ingredients sales also rose 4%, with AB Agriculture 13% up on previous year. It also saw record sales in the week before Christmas.

ROYAL MAIL: Britain's Royal Mail on Thursday reported a rise in nine-month revenue, helped by higher parcel volumes and strength in its worldwide business. Analysts polled by The Wall Street Journal expected, on average, the index to slip further, to minus 2. Following this are EIA crude oil stocks at 1600 GMT. The move follows reports that Macron has been pressing for Britain to increase its financial contribution as well as a commitment to take more refugees ahead of his first visit to the United Kingdom as president. Increasing co-operation on defence and counter-terrorism will be high on the agenda at an event which will see the first meeting together of the heads of the two countries' main intelligence agencies.

In Asia on Thursday, the Japanese Nikkei 225 index closed down 0.4%. The world's most populous nation grew 6.9% in 2017, beating Chinese government targets of 6.5%. Allied Bakeries losses should be reduced for the year, helped by volumes remaining strong, while the Acetum balsamic vinegar business acquired last year delivered sales in line with expectations.