Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:
Debenhams and Marks & Spencer see Christmas sales fall
Debenhams (DEB.L) and Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) both reported falls in sales over the crucial Christmas trading period on Thursday, as new figures showed shops had their worst festive period since 2008.
M&S reported a 2.4% fall in like-for-like clothing and home sales over its Christmas quarter to 29 December, while food sales dropped 2.1%. Group sales fell by 3.9%.
Debenhams sales fell by 3.8% in the six weeks to 5 January. Comparable sales in the UK were 3.6% lower than last year due to weak store footfall.
The results came as new figures from KPMG and the British Retail Consortium showed that the high street suffered its worst Christmas since the financial crisis. Comparable sales were 0.7% lower than a year earlier in December 2018.
Also on Thursday, Halfords (HFD.L) warned its profits this year will be lower than previously guided and said revenue was down 1.7% on a like-for-like basis during the 14 weeks to 4 January. Shares were down 20%.
John Lewis warned that its annual staff bonus is under threat for the first time since 1953 as it battles challenging trading conditions. In a Christmas trading update, the department store chain saw like-for-like sales rise 1% in the seven weeks to 5 January.
Tesco outperforms over Christmas
It’s better news for Britain’s biggest supermarket chain Tesco (TSCO.L).
Tesco reported a 2.2% rise in UK like-for-like sales over the festive period and said it outperformed the market in all key categories – food, clothing, and general merchandise. For the third quarter as a whole, Tesco recorded comparable UK sales growth of 0.7%.
CEO Dave Lewis said that “sensible” Brexit contingency planning is under way and Tesco is working with suppliers to stockpile goods.
However, he sounded the alarm bell over fresh food.
“It’s hard to contingency for fresh food, where we can’t stockpile,” he said. “Like other retailers, we’d be keen that there is no friction at the border given the UK imports half of the fresh food it eats.”
Jaguar Land Rover cutting thousands of jobs
Car giant Jaguar Land Rover will announce up to 5,000 job cuts in a business update on Thursday, according to reports.
The luxury carmaker employs 44,000 workers in the UK at sites in Halewood on Merseyside and Solihull, Castle Bromwich, and Wolverhampton in the West Midlands.
Some 5,000 jobs will be cut, mainly in management, marketing, and administrative roles, the BBC reported.
In October last year the company unveiled a £2.5bn turnaround plan that included cost cutting, after Brexit uncertainty and slowing demand in China left it nursing a hefty second-quarter loss.
The firm, owned by Indian conglomerate Tata, booked a £90m pre-tax loss in the three months to 30 September, which compared with a £385m profit in the same period in 2017.
German digital bank raises $300m
German app-only bank N26 has raised $300m (£235m) from New York venture capital and private equity group Insight Venture Partners. Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC also took part in the funding round.
The investment values N26 at $2.7bn and takes the total raised by N26 to over $500m. The six-year-old startup is also backed by Allianz, Tencent, Silicon Valley VC Peter Thiel, and Li Ka-Shing, the man dubbed Hong Kong’s Warren Buffett.
N26 operates across 24 countries in Europe, including the UK, and has 2.3m customers. The company said the funding will be used to launch in the US later this year.
European stock markets were lower after the brutal retail performance and amid continuing trade tensions.
What to expect in the US
US stock futures were pointing to a slightly lower open. S&P 500 futures (ES=F) were down by 0.6%, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F) were down by 0.5%, and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were down by 0.7%. The VIX volatility-tracking index (^VIX) was up by 2.7%.
With files from Press Association.