- UK construction, mortgage data beats forecasts
- UK house prices continue to rise, business lending falters
- China service-sector data disappoints
- Retailers rise as Next lifts guidance after Christmas
techMARK 2,788.64 +0.59%
FTSE 100 6,730.67 +0.19%
FTSE 250 16,020.47 +0.64%
UK markets pushed into positive territory on Friday as a host of decent domestic economic figures bolstered investor confidence in the British economic recovery.
After pulling back yesterday on its first trading day of 2014, the FTSE 100 managed to partially erase some losses, finishing up 12.76 points on the day at 6,730.67.
"Traders feel that stock markets appear to be a little exhausted at current levels, prompting the temptation to book profits; but at the same time, their general tone remains upbeat as we kick off 2014," said Market Strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital.
US markets, however, opened mixed today as investors waited cautiously for a speech by Ben Bernanke for clues on the Federal Reserve's next move. Bernanke steps down as Chairman of the central bank this month.
China data disappoints, UK data impresses
Chinese data sparked a fall across markets in Asia overnight as growth in the services sector eased in December. The purchasing managers' index (PMI) measuring the Chinese non-manufacturing sector fell from 56 to 54.6 last month - its worst reading since August 2013.
This following a raft of manufacturing PMIs out from China, the US and UK yesterday, which also showed that global activity had largely slowed down in December.
However, sentiment recovered slightly after the UK construction PMI beat consensus forecasts today. The PMI fell from 62.6 to 62.1 in December but still showed that activity grew at its fastest rate in over six years. This was marginally ahead of the 62 figure analysts were expected.
Meanwhile, mortgage approvals rose from a revised 68,029 to a near six-year high of 70,758 in November, above the rise to 69,700 expected.
UK house prices rose in December at their strongest rate in more than four years, Nationwide figures revealed on Friday. House prices jumped 1.4% last month compared to November when they increased 0.7%. Economists had expected the rate of growth to remain unchanged.
Lending to businesses, however, declined at a year-on-year rate of 3.9% in November, marking the biggest decline since April 2011.
Next jumps 10%, lifts retailers after strong Christmas
Retail stocks had another strong showing after a bullish update from High Street bellwether Next, which ensured that investors put the negative readacross from the Debenhams profit warning firmly behind them. Fashion and homewares retailer Next surged 10% after raising its full-year profit guidance today following a "significantly" better-than-expected fourth quarter.
The news came just a day after department stores John Lewis and House of Fraser reported excellent sales over the key Christmas period. According to The Times, the latter's Chief Executive John King said that the group expects to float on the London stock market by the end of the year.
Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury were all registering decent gains on Friday with investors hoping that the retailers will follow suit with decent sales figures when they update the market on trading next week.
Even Debenhams, which yesterday reported the departure of its Finance Director Simon Herrick following a gloomy trading update earlier in the week, was making solid gains this afternoon, along with Dixons, Home Retail and Sports Direct.
Hargreaves Lansdown and Schroders were also providing a lift after analysts at Barclays Capital highlighted an improving flow outlook for UK asset managers in 2014. The bank gave both stocks an 'overweight' rating.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Next (NXT) 6,085.00p +10.04%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 444.00p +3.91%
CRH (CRH) 1,580.00p +2.66%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,441.00p +2.56%
Fresnillo (FRES) 771.50p +2.19%
Standard Life (SL.) 362.00p +2.03%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 734.00p +2.02%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 374.00p +1.80%
TUI Travel (TT.) 412.00p +1.78%
Hammerson (HMSO) 499.00p +1.75%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,725.00p -2.04%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,026.00p -1.82%
Pearson (PSON) 1,318.00p -1.64%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 307.50p -0.97%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 776.50p -0.89%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 348.40p -0.88%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 1,087.00p -0.73%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 838.00p -0.65%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 235.70p -0.63%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,339.00p -0.63%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 50.00p +5.20%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 121.60p +4.29%
Telecity Group (TCY) 766.50p +4.14%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 199.20p +4.13%
Debenhams (DEB) 78.10p +3.93%
BTG (BTG) 587.00p +3.53%
RPS Group (RPS) 345.30p +3.45%
Morgan Advanced Materials (MGAM) 322.30p +3.30%
Renishaw (RSW) 2,075.00p +3.29%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 102.80p +3.16%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 20.00p -5.48%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 209.80p -2.92%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 185.00p -2.89%
Synthomer (SYNT) 256.50p -2.88%
Lonmin (LMI) 306.40p -2.42%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 905.50p -1.63%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,332.00p -1.55%
UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company (UDG) 327.00p -1.54%
Perform Group (PER) 220.10p -1.52%
Laird (LRD) 273.50p -1.51%