UK stocks are set for a small retreat this morning after putting in decent gains in yesterday's session.
Despite turbulence in Eastern Europe, the FTSE 100 managed to surpass the psychologically significant level of 6,700 on Thursday. However, City sources predict the index will open around 16 points lower than yesterday's close of 6,703.
US stock markets finished the session largely unmoved last night, as rising tensions in Ukraine took the shine off impressive results from a number of heavyweights, including Amazon, Apple and Facebook.
Russia has ordered new military exercises on its border with Ukraine following an operation by Kiev against pro-Russian separatists, in which up to five of the rebels reportedly died on Thursday.
Compensating for that a bit later on, Ukraine "paused to reformulate the plan", a senior security official in Kiev said, according to reports from editor Katya Gorchinskaya, amid a "heightened risk" of Russia sending troops into Ukraine.
Markets were also reacting to economic data showing jobless claims rose 24,000 to 329,000 last week. This compared with an upwardly revised 305,000 the week before and disappointed analysts seeking a figure of 315,000.
That came as US durable goods orders increased by 2.6% in March, up from 2.1% growth the previous month and ahead of the 2% month-on-month rise expected.
In Japan overnight, it was reported that consumer inflation climbed for the 10th consecutive month in March, driven by higher energy costs, with electicity prices jumping 10%. Year-on-year and excluding food prices, inflation rose 1.3%.
On the UK-listed company front, it was disappointing news from Tullow Oil this morning, with the group revealing the Tapendar-1 exploration well in the C-10 licence, offshore Mauritania, has not encountered hydrocarbons. The well is being plugged and abandoned, after which the Stena DrillMax drill ship will leave Mauritania. Data from the Frégate-1 and Tapendar-1 wells will now be analysed and integrated into the seismic data previously acquired across Tullow's Mauritania acreage before the next well locations and timings are confirmed, the FTSE 100 group explained.
The recent strength in sterling had a big impact on WPP's top line in the first quarter, limiting revenue growth to just 1.5%, but results still managed to come in ahead of analysts' forecasts. Reported revenues rose to £2.57bn in the first three months of 2014, up from £2.53bn the year before and ahead of the consensus forecast of £2.50bn. At constant currencies, sales would have grown by 9.6%, meaning that the negative impact of exchange rates
Education and Financial Times publisher Pearson said first-quarter sales had taken a hit from currency volatility, fuelling an expected drop in profit in the first half against the same time a year ago.