- FTSE 100 to open 12 points lower
- Mixed performance in both US and Asia overnight
- Today's focus to be on UK retail sales and US confidence
City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open 12 points above yesterday's close of 6,815.42 ahead of both US and UK data and as investors digest mixed performances in Asia and the States overnight.
Underwhelming results from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs and a tumble from Best Buy sent US markets broadly lower on Thursday, as the S&P 500
pulled back from a record high. Investors were also reacting to a slightly surprise decline, albeit only small, in claims for unemployment benefits.
Meanwhile, it was a mixed finish for Asia markets, with the Nikkei Average reversing earlier losses to finish higher while the majority of other indices closed lower.
Turning to today's agenda, it will be the UK retail sales and US confidence figures that are set to be the big market movers, topping off a busy week of economic data.
Kicking off the session will be a report on UK retail sales which is expected to show a rise of 2.5% year-on-year in December, compared to the previous month's 2.3% jump.
The data comes amid a tough Christmas for UK retailers despite heavy discounting and promotions to attract shoppers who remained cautious.
Retailers have shown mixed results over the festive period as household incomes have failed to keep up pace with rising inflation.
In the US later on, the University of Michigan's flash reading on consumer sentiment for January is likely to rise to 83.5 from 82.5 in December, according to the consensus forecast.
The data comes as the Federal Reserve's meeting at the end of the month looms.
Investors are closely watching economic reports to gauge whether the central bank will announce another round of stimulus tapering after December's decision to start winding back monthly bond purchases by $10bn to $75bn.
In today's company news, insurance giant Aviva has signed a joint venture (JV) agreement with Astra International, Indonesia's largest publicly listed company, to form Astra Aviva Life, which will sell and distribute life insurance products in Indonesia. Aviva said Astra was its "ideal partner" and said the JV was "good for Aviva, good for Astra and good for our customers".
Pharmaceutical group Shire has agreed to sell its loss-making DEMAGRAFT skin treatment assets to US-based Organogenesis Inc as it focuses on other areas, but will record a one-off charge of $650m in its fourth-quarter results. DERMAGRAFT, approved for use in the US and Canada, is a living skin substitute used in the treatment of full-thickness diabetic foot ulcers.
Betting company William Hill's fourth-quarter revenue rose 6% in retail and online, according to a trading update this morning. A 38% rise in Sportsbook drove revenue higher in the online division, while a 16% increase in Machines revenue, such as slots, boosted retail.