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Supermarkets elevate London market

In mid-morning trading the FTSE 100 is up 46 points at 6547, with Morrisons topping the leaderboard. 

Morrisons sign
Source: Bloomberg

Shares in Morrisons are enjoying their 15 minutes of fame at the top of the FTSE 100, as CEO Dalton Philips announces he is stepping down at the end of the financial year. Morrisons is the the weakest of the supermarkets, and has been trying desperately hard just to keep up with rest of the herd. A change of leadership signals a new lease of life for the company, but the grocer will need to pick the right CEO as the market doesn’t give second chances. 

Greggs shares soared to a record high this morning as the makeover to its shops and a more wholesome menu have helped the bakery post healthy sales, creating a recipe for success for the period in question. The unseasonably warm autumn complemented Greggs's more nutritious menu.

Shares in Debenhams were sent tumbling after the department store revealed an unexpected drop in first-quarter sales. While Black Friday was profitable and Christmas saw a steady rise in online activity, an extra long British summer burnt a hole in its autumn revenues, causing the three-month rally in the shares to come to a juddering halt. 

The talk of full-blown quantitative easing from the European Central Bank still echoes around trading floors, and European equity markets are still clinging to the possibility of extra stimulus for Mario Draghi. The dismal inflation figures from the UK prove that falling CPI is not just a eurozone problem, though equity dealers are delighted as the Bank of England is now even further away from a rate hike. 

Sterling smashed through the $1.51 level this morning as UK CPI dropped to its lowest level since 2000. The pound will be under further pressure as deflation in the eurozone and crumbling commodity prices will add to Mark Carney's woes, but UK consumers at least can cheer the news that goods are getting cheaper, making life that little bit easier.

We are expecting the Dow Jones to open 65 points higher today, at 17,705, as the latest round of reporting got off to a great start when Alcoa topped estimates last night. 

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