UK retail sales slide in December after Black Friday boost

Above, shoppers pass a promotional sign for 'Black Friday' sales discounts as they exit a retail store on Oxford Street in London. British retail sales jumped by one percent in November, boosted by Black Friday price reductions, but slipped 1.5 percent the next month. (AFP)
Updated 19 January 2018
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UK retail sales slide in December after Black Friday boost

LONDON: British retail sales slid 1.5 percent in December from the previous month after consumers had brought forward their Christmas shopping, official data showed Friday.
Retail sales had jumped by 1.0 percent in November, boosted by Black Friday price reductions, the Office for National Statistics said.
Sales though climbed 1.4 percent in December compared with one year earlier, the ONS added.
“Retail sales continued to grow in the last three months of the year partly due to Black Friday deals boosting spending,” said ONS Senior Statistician Rhian Murphy.
“Consumers continue to move Christmas purchases earlier, with higher spending in November and lower spending in December than seen in previous years.”
Murphy added that “the longer-term picture is one of slowing growth, with increased prices squeezing people’s spending.”
Britons’ wages are being eroded by Brexit-fueled inflation, according to recent official data.
Since Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016, a drop in sterling — making imported goods more expensive — has pushed inflation upwards.
“The latest retail sales data has shown a larger-than-expected drop in month-on-month terms with a decline of 1.5 percent,” said David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB trading group, adding that the pound dropped in response.


Saudi minister Al-Falih says Aramco IPO likely in 2019

Updated 25 May 2018
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Saudi minister Al-Falih says Aramco IPO likely in 2019

  • Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih: “We are ready, the company (Saudi Aramco) essentially has ticked all the boxes. We’re simply waiting for a market readiness for the IPO.”
  • Khalid Al-Falih: “Most likely it will be in 2019 but we will not know until the announcement has been made. All I could say is stay tuned.”

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is most likely to hold the initial public offering (IPO) of oil giant Aramco in 2019, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said on Friday, confirming a delay from the initial plan to list the company this year.

“The timing I think will depend on the readiness of the market, rather than the readiness of the company or the readiness of Saudi Arabia,” Khalid Al-Falih, who’s also the company’s chairman, said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia on Friday.

“We are ready, the company essentially has ticked all the boxes,” he said. “We’re simply waiting for a market readiness for the IPO.”

For almost two years, Saudi officials said the IPO was “on track, on time” for the second half of 2018. But for the first time in March they suggested it could be delayed until 2019.

“Most likely it will be in 2019 but we will not know until the announcement has been made,” Al-Falih said. “All I could say is stay tuned.”

The Aramco IPO would be a once-in-a-generation event for financial markets. Saudi officials said they hope to raise a record $100 billion by selling a 5 percent stake, valuing the company at more than $2 trillion and dwarfing the $25 billion raised by Chinese retailer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2014.