- Positive start expected on FTSE
- One per cent decline expected in UK retail sales
- RBS expected to announce major job cuts
The FTSE is set to open in positive territory this morning, driven by a rally on Wall Street and gains over in Asia overnight.
City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open 29 points higher than yesterday's close of 6,812.99.
US markets managed to finish with decent gains on Thursday, as a surge in domestic manufacturing activity to a four-year high and a strong performance from Facebook helped to erase earlier losses.
Markets were also shrugging off weak economic from overseas, which showed a worse-than-expected contraction in Chinese manufacturing and a slowdown in activity growth in the Eurozone.
After a data-heavy week, today's session is set to be a relatively quiet one.
Alpari Market Analyst Craig Erlam noted: "It's been a fairly big week for the UK, with some very important pieces of economic data being released along with the minutes from the Bank of England meeting earlier this month. While the latter turned out to be somewhat of a non-event, the data as a whole has been quite encouraging for the UK recovery."
On today's agenda are British retail sales, which will be released along with UK public finances and US existing home sales.
Retail sales are expected to have declined by 1% in January, which, according to Erlam, "is not as bad as it sounds when you consider the huge rise in December that easily exceeded expectations".
He explained this would still be a 5% improvement on last year, "which clearly shows how far the UK has come in the last 12 months".
Government borrowing in January is predicted to be around £9bn.
In this morning's company news, aerospace giant Rolls-Royce has scored a $182.7m contract with the US Air Force to support the C-130J fleet amid concerns over cuts in government defence spending. Under the so-called MissionCare, Rolls-Royce will supply sustainment services for its AE 2100 engines, nacelles and propellers on the US Air Force C-130J fleet.
Legal & General is set to acquire Global Index Advisors, an Atlanta-based investment advisor focused on target date funds. The acquisition was to be made for a maximum consideration of $50.4m and was due to complete mid-2014. The transaction forms part of Legal & General's plan for the international expansion of asset management.
Oil major Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to dispose of the bulk of its Australia downstream business to oil trader Vitol, as part of its plan to sell-off $15bn in assets over the next two years. The sale, which excludes the Aviation business and certain plants in Brisbane, is being made for a total transaction value of around A$2.9bn, equal to just under £1.6bn.
Royal Bank of Scotland is reporedtly planning to announce plans to cut 30,000 jobs as part of a major restructuring.