- Flat start for FTSE
- US stocks end broadly higher
- Focus on US jobs data, quiet day for City
A broadly flat start is expected on the London stock market today, as investors await key jobs data out from the US on what is set to be a notably quiet day for both companies and the wider economy on this side of the Pond.
City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open just two points higher than yesterday's close of 6,788.49.
US stock markets finished mostly higher on Thursday with the S&P 500
hitting yet another record after jobless claims fell more than expected. The data revealed 323,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits in the week to February 28th, compared to 349,000 a week earlier. Economists had expected 336,000 claims.
Today's focus will be on the release of the non-farm payrolls report and unemployment rate. Analysts expect the Labor Department's official non-farm payrolls data to show US employers added 150,000 jobs in February, compared to 113,000 a month earlier. The jobless rate is forecast to hold at 6.6%.
It comes after the ADP on Wednesday released its report which unveiled the private sector added 139,000 jobs in February, falling short of economists' estimates for a gain of 160,000 jobs. January's number was revised downward by 48,000 to 127,000 jobs.
In other news due out today, Germany, Europe's biggest manufacturer, is set to publish its industrial production figures for January. According to HSBC, a rise of 0.5% is on the cards.
In this morning's company announcements, AGA Rangemaster revealed its annual revenues rose 2.4% to £250.4m as the oven maker reaped the rewards of an upswing in the housing sector. The company, which manufacturing a range of kitchen appliances, reported a 26.2% rise in operating profits to £8.2m in the year through December 2013.
Escher Group, which provides outsourced, point-of-service software to the postal industry, has signed a contract with international food retail chain, Just Falafel, for the provision of a loyalty, coupon and pre-payment solution across its retail outlets in the UK. The solution will launch in March in a London store, followed by a rollout in all Just Falafel stores throughout the UK.
Brightside Group , the AIM-listed insurance broking and financial services group, has ramped up its business partnership with Wal-Mart-owned UK supermarket chain Asda. The company, which provides fully serviced car and commercial vehicle insurance through Asia, is extending its existing partnership with the grocer for a further three years.