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The UK economy beat market expectations to return to monthly growth in November, helped by the impact of the Black Friday retail event and fewer strike actions.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK economy grew 0.3% in November, following a fall of 0.3% in October 2023.

It was a stronger month for services and production, with the former category growing 0.4% (after a 0.1% fall in October) and the latter growing by 0.3% after a drop of 1.3% in October.

The construction sector fell by 0.2% in November 2023 after a fall of 0.4% in October.

The ONS said that the Black Friday sales seemed to have had a positive impact on monthly turnover, boosting industries from retail, warehousing, couriers and some manufacturing industries.

It added that the fewer number of strikes in comparison with previous months may have been a factor in the increase in monthly growth. This was cited in health (both market and non-market activity), transport sectors (rail and bus), and TV and film production, with the actors’ strike in the US affecting production by UK businesses.

On the negative side, the lack of demand for construction products was prevalent across manufacturing.

Despite the growth in November, real GDP is estimated to have fallen by 0.2% in the three months to November 2023, compared with the three months to August 2023.

Morning update

Reckitt Benckiser has appointed former Walmart senior exec Marybeth Hays to its board as a non-executive director, effective 1 February 2024.

The group said she brought more than 25 years of experience in retail, healthcare and consumer goods to the Reckitt board.

From October 2009 until February 2019, she held various roles of increasing P&L responsibility at three of the four operating divisions of Walmart, including most recently as executive VP of consumables and health & wellness for Walmart US and as chief merchandising, marketing, and supply chain officer for Walmart China.

Chris Sinclair, chair of the board said: “I am delighted that Marybeth has agreed to join the Reckitt board. She is an outstanding leader, with considerable expertise in merchandising, marketing and omnichannel gained from 25 years of general management across global retail, healthcare and consumer goods businesses. We welcome the value she will bring to the board.”

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 has bounced back 0.8% at 7,636.4pts following yesterday’s falls.

Early risers include Naked Wines, up 4.5% to 56p, Just Eat, up 3.5% to 1,259p and Bakkavor, up 3.2% to 84.8p.

Fallers include Nichols, down 1.8% to 1,120p, Ocado, down 1.7% to 650.4p and Wynnstay, down 1.6% to 322.3p.

Yesterday in the City

Marks & Spencer may have been one of the major grocery winners over Christmas, but its festive performance was not enough to impress the City, which sent its shares into the red despite a bumper trading update.

Slowing sales growth and a lack of profits upgrade for M&S saw its shares close 5.2% down at 263.3p yesterday.

Tesco was down 1.4% to 292.4p after its own trading update despite upgrading its full-year profits expectations. Concerns over retail sector profitability in 2024 and general merchandise hit sector sentiment.

Overall, the FTSE 100 fell back another 1% to 7,576.6pts to continue its rocky start to the year.

Other fallers included Naked Wines, down 6.1% to 53.6p, THG, down 5.4% to 67.8p, WH Smith, down 3.7% to 1,252p, Ocado, down 3.6% to 661.4p, Associated British Foods, down 3.5% to 2,254p and Fever-Tree Drinks, down 3% to 958p.

The days risers included Hilton Food Group, up 2.1% to 772p after posting a solid trading update and volume growth over Christmas.

Other risers included Just Eat, up 1.5% to 1,217p, Diageo, up 1% to 2,815.5p, Coca-Cola HBC, up 0.6% to 2,332p and C&C Group, up 05% to 152.2p.