Market Report: UK borrowing soars in January and British retail sales continue to plummet

FTSE 100 slipped lower on confirmation UK government borrowing hit a record high of £8.8bn in January. London’s leading index slipped 11 points to 6,605 in early trading.

The Office for National Statistics reported UK retail sales also dropped 8.2% in January compared to December because of widespread store closures. Online sales accounted for over a third of total spending for the first time.

NatWest Group PLC (LON:NWG) slumped to a full-year post-tax loss of £753mln due to a £3.2bn bad debt charge while it confirmed it is pulling out of Ireland. On the plus side, the dividend is back and bonuses went up at the taxpayer-owned bank.

Future PLC (LON:FUTR) said full-year profits will be materially ahead of market forecasts. The publisher said online subs and advertising were very strong during Black Friday and Christmas.

SourceBio International PLC (LON:SBI) is to support the roll-out of mobile COVID-19 testing in the UK as part of the Department of Health and Social Care’s new pilot scheme. It will oversee all laboratory operations and processes.

88 Energy Ltd (LON:88E) announced the start of rig mobilisation for the Merlin-1 well, in Alaska, where drilling is scheduled to start in the first week of March. "Commencement of drilling at Merlin-1 is now just around the corner,” said Dave Wall, managing director.

Horizonte-Minerals-PLC (LON:HZM) confirmed the closing of a share placing with the nickel mine developer raising £18mln in total. £12.2mln was raised in the UK and £5.8mln in Canada.

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