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Tesco saw first rise in sales since 2014
Those who saw out the last phase of the eurozone crisis, when fresh bailouts were needed seemingly on a daily basis, will remember how sudden developments can cause markets to stage quick turnarounds. This morning’s session appeared to point towards further, if modest downside, for European markets, when a sudden news report saw the mood transformed. It appeared that the European Commission was working on a compromise deal that might stave off an immediate and disorderly Grexit. The deal is designed to avoid any sudden panic in February, and doesn’t solve the problem in its entirety, but it buys time, and if the eurozone is good at one thing, it is buying time.
Supermarkets surged to the top of the leaderboard in London after Kantar data for last month showed that Tesco enjoyed its first rise in sales since January 2014, while Morrisons was able to slow its rate of decline to 0.4%. The latter is also selling off some stores to raise cash – Dave Lewis’ slimming down of the retail empire worked, and investors were pleased that Morrisons has taken the decision to wield the knife and cut costs.
Greece going down to the wire
US indices too were lifted by the Greece news, but overall markets like the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones have gone nowhere for the best part of two days. Veterans of past eurozone negotiations know that nothing is settled in opening negotiations, politicians instead preferring the last minute, ‘down to the wire’ approach.
Quarterly profit at Coca-Cola was severely affected by the rise in the US dollar, but strength in the all-important home market, which saw a rise in sales for the first time in a year, provided the ideal recipe for a rally in the shares. Much hope is still pinned on its premium milk division, but the future looks better for the main product, an icon of American global success.
Chinese data deflates copper
Having tried to test $54 a barrel yesterday for the second time in a week, WTI is in retreat again and threatening to slip back below $50. Any lingering euphoria in oil markets about the bounce in the commodity has been dispelled by the disappointing performance of the commodity since it touched a multi-week high at the beginning of the month.
Disheartening Chinese price inflation numbers have taken a chunk out of copper, even if supply disruptions meant that the decline was not as severe as expected. Here too, the bear market is set to continue, thanks to weak demand and plentiful supply.
EUR/USD's $1.1270 test rejected
An attempt by EUR/USD to test yesterday’s lows around the $1.1270 area was rapidly beaten back on hopes that Greece and its partners (or negotiation opponents, depending on your view) might reach at least a temporary deal. The risk-on mentality lasted for about four hours really, but scepticism seems to be setting in.
The clear risk is that tomorrow’s meeting will break up without agreement, leaving Greece, the eurozone and financial markets in exactly the same position as they were this morning.