(Adds news items, futures)
* JOULES: Fashion retailer Joules Group Plc JOUL.L warned that its 2020 profit would be significantly below market expectations as online retail sales suffered due to a shortage of merchandise during the crucial Christmas period. MONDI: Paper packaging company Mondi Plc MNDI.L said that Chief Executive Officer Peter Oswald would step down after nearly three years in the role. JD SPORTS: Britain's biggest sportswear retailer JD Sports JD.L said it expects annual headline pretax profit towards the upper end of the current market view, as its gym clothing and premium-branded fashion helped counter the gloomy UK retail sector once again. LIDL UK: Lidl GB said its total sales rose 11% in the four weeks to Dec. 29 as the British arm of the German discount supermarket group outshone bigger rivals in what was otherwise a subdued Christmas period. B&M: B&M European Value Retail BMEB.L said sales growth slowed in the key Christmas quarter, reflecting a "challenging broader retail market" and a decision not to engage in early discounting activity. SUPERDRY: British fashion brand Superdry SDRY.L warned on its full-year profit on Friday after sales during the peak Christmas period fell short of its expectations due to weaker trading on older product. RYANAIR: Ryanair RYA.I , one of the world's largest airlines, raised its guidance for full-year profit after tax to 950-1,050 million euros on stronger-than-expected performance during the Christmas and New Year travel period. SHELL: Royal Dutch Shell Plc RDSa.L is looking to sell its oil refinery in Anacortes, Washington, according to three people familiar with the matter. INEOS: A subsidiary of British chemical giant INEOS Group INEOSG.UL will build a plant with an annual capacity of 600,000 tonnes of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a lightweight plastic used in automobiles and electrical appliances, in China. ECONOMY: Optimism at major British companies has improved by the largest margin in at least 11 years after Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a sweeping election victory last month, according to a survey from accountants Deloitte. JOBS: British employers last month increased their number of new permanent staff for the first time in a year, reflecting a modest rise in optimism after December's election, a survey of recruiters showed. GOLD: Gold prices fell and were set for their worst week in five as easing tensions in the Middle East prompted investors to move back to riskier bets. OIL: Oil prices dropped extending days of losses as the threat of war in the Middle East receded and investors switched attention to economic growth prospects and the rise in U.S. crude oil and product inventories. London's main share index advanced on Thursday as chances of a full-blown crisis in the Middle East waned, but mid-caps lagged as SIG and Marks and Spencer (LON: MKS ) fell after warning of lower annual results. UK PAPERS
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