Recent sunny weather has helped DIY chain Homebase, which notched up a like-for-like sales increase of 3.8 per cent in the 13 weeks to May 30.

For once the chain outperformed its Home Retail stablemate Argos, which posted a 2.8 per cent slide.

Home Retail boss Terry Duddy remained cautious and said trading focus would be on “driving cash gross margin and cost efficiencies”.

Nomura rates Home Retail a buy and increased its price target to 288p. The broker said: “We may see a strong first half out-turn, particularly at Homebase. We continue to highlight the strong net cash position of the group and strong cash flow generation.”

UBS, also advising buy, increased its profit forecast by £10m to £210m. “The consensus range looks set to move up for the first time in about 18 months,” the broker said.