ONE of the star performers of 2012 suffered a new year hitch today after disappointing the City with its Christmas trading update.
Debenhams posted like-for-like sales growth of 5%, but this came at the expense of margins, as competitive trading conditions forced it into one-off price cuts of up to 50% on some products.
Having risen by more than 90% last year, Debenhams shares succumbed to profit-taking today, with the stock down almost 8%, or 9p to 108.1p, in the FTSE 250 Index.
In the top flight, the FTSE 100 Index fell 11 points to 6053.6, as it emerged unemployment in the eurozone hit a record high of 11.8% in November.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average also opened lower, with investors pessimistic about the approaching run of corporate earnings reports.
The pound was down against the US dollar and the euro at 1.60 and 1.22 respectively, amid weak UK construction and services data last week.
Mobile phone giant Vodafone was among the top blue-chip risers, up 2.8p to 162.4p, after the boss of Verizon Communications discussed the possibility of buying the UK company’s 45% stake in Verizon Wireless.
Miner Anglo American was also doing well after investors reacted positively to the company’s appointment of Mark Cutifani as chief executive to replace Cynthia Carroll, who will step down at the end of April. He is currently the boss of South Africa’s AngloGold Ashanti. Shares were 1.4% higher, up 27.5p to 2028p.
Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland continued to rise today after proposals aimed at ensuring firms can survive a short-term crisis were softened by regulators. Shares were up 1% today, ahead 3.1p to 337p.
The biggest FTSE 100 risers were Shire up 49p to 1963p, Sainsbury’s ahead 7.3p to 339p, Vodafone 2.8p higher at 162.4p and Resolution up 4p to 254.9p.
The biggest FTSE 100 fallers were Tullow Oil down 46p to 1225p, TUI Travel off 9.8p to 276.8p, Antofagasta 34p lower at 1288p and CRH down 32p to 1221p.