- US data comes in below expectations
- All eyes on Eurzone Q4 GDP figures
- Flat state expected on FTSE
A flat start is expected on today's FTSE as investors weigh up poor data from the US with expectations for today's Eurozone gross domestic product (GDP).
Data out yesterday showed that US retail sales declined by 0.4% in January, compared with a downwardly revised 0.2% increase the month before, due to weakness in the auto, department stores and eating out categories. The consensus of analysts had expected no change.
Meanwhile, US initial jobless claims increased by 8,000 from 331,000 to 339,000 in the week ending February 8th, slightly ahead of the fall to 330,000 expected by the market.
However, as pointed out by Alpari Market Analyst Craig Erlam, "investors remained quite positive, focusing instead of the earnings results along with reports of increased M&A activity", as stock markets in the States rose strongly on Thursday.
He continued: "I guess Fed Chair Janet Yellen's assurances about the economy on Tuesday didn't do any harm either, as she highlighted the temporary distortions in the data due to adverse weather conditions.
Over in the Eurozone, figures are due to be released on fourth-quarter GDP for a number of countries as well as the region as a whole.
The figures already out from France revealed growth of 0.3%, while the third-quarter number was revised up to 0%. Germany reported growth of 0.4%, above expectations of 0.3%, driven by exports which offset weak domestic demand.
According to Erlam, Italy's figure "could mark a turning point for the country, with it having not recording positive quarterly growth now since the second quarter of 2011, resulting in the longest recession on record". The country is today expected to report a modest 0.1% growth.
Back in the UK, this morning's company news revealed Vodafone's Indian arm has acquired spectrum licences in 11 telecom circles as part of a government auction. Vodafone acquired a total of 72 megahertz for £1.9bn, of which £0.54m will be paid in the 2014 financial year and the remainder from 2017 onwards.
Water company Severn Trent forecast slightly higher consumption for the year, but said annual profits in its services business were likely to be lower than a year ago.
Anglo American has reported a 6% increase in 2013 underlying operating profit to $6.6bn as currency gains offset falling commodity prices. The company said a weak South African rand against the dollar, improved copper and platinum sales and the contribution of its increased stake in De Beers helped to boost annual results.
Full-year profits at Coca-Cola bottling firm Coca-Cola HBC edged higher in 2013 despite a dip in volumes and revenues, after a strong fourth quarter gave results a boost. The company, which is the second-largest Coca-Cola anchor bottler in the world, said that comparable earnings per share (EPS) rose to €0.81 last year, up 4% on 2012. At the end of the third quarter comparable EPS were down 1% year-on-year.