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Moss Bros to wrap up busy week of Christmas trading updates from high street retailers

The day includes trading updates from retailers Moss Bros and AO World, plus UK gross domestic product data and US inflation figures
Moss Bros
Moss Bros has had a tough year and many other UK retailers are in the same boat

Moss Bros Group plc (LON:MOSB) will cap off a busy week of Christmas trading updates from High Street retailers on Friday.  

The men’s clothing retailer last updated the market in September when it cut its interim dividend by almost 25% following a 6.9% drop in like-for-like sales in the first half to July 28 as weak hire sales offset growth in online.

Adjusted pre-tax profit dropped 3.7% to 30.2mln and total group revenue fell 3.3% to £64.5mln.

The company said like-for-like sales improved to a decline of 3.7% in the first seven weeks to September 15.

Like many retailers, Moss Bros sales have been dented by subdued consumer spending and lower footfall in stores.

Despite sluggish sales, the company has decided against short-term cost-cutting to prop up profits and has instead continued to invest in its products and digital offering. That means operating profits for the year will be materially lower than market forecasts of £2.3mln.

Investors will be hoping its investments paid off over the Christmas period but given the current climate that may prove difficult.

This week has seen mixed Christmas trading updates from retailers including Ted Baker PLC (LON:TED), Debenhams PLC (LON:DEB), Halfords Group PLC (LON:HFD), Marks & Spencer Group PLC (LON:MKS), Mothercare plc (LON:MTC), J Sainsbury plc (LON:SBRY), Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) and Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW).

UK GDP and US inflation eyed

Away from company news, the Office for National Statistics releases November data for UK economic growth, which is expected to have remained at 0.1% month-on-month..

Across the pond, US inflation figures will be in focus. The consumer price index is forecast to ease to an annual rate of 1.9% in December from 2.2% a month ago.  

The Federal Reserve is targeting an inflation rate of 2%, although its preferred measure is the core personal consumption expenditures price index, which rose 1.9% in November.

Last month the Fed raised rates for the fourth time in 2018 and said it would continue to withdraw support from an economy it views as strong.

“With the economy possibly easing and inflation not stirring in a meaningful way, the case for additional tightening in monetary policy seems weak,” Daiwa Capital Markets said.

“Many observers are wondering why the Fed is even considering higher interest rates, and some market participants have started to talk about easier policy this year.”

Major announcements due on Friday:

Trading updates: Moss Bros Group plc (LON:MOSB), AO World PLC (LON:AO.), Grafton Group PLC (LON:GFTU)

Economic data: UK monthly GDP, US CPI; US retail sales

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