- Yellen comments send S&P 500
to record high
- Feb Consumer Confidence holds steady
- "Big six" ordered to return customer credit
At the opening bell of what is set to be another busy day for markets both at home and abroad, UK stocks are expected to move higher early on.
Boosted by a strong finish in the US last night, City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open 18 points higher than yesterday's close of 6,810.27.
The Stateside gains, which saw the benchmark S&P 500 end the session at a record high, followed comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, at the Senate Banking Committee.
Yellen pointed out that a number of the data releases in recent days indicated softer spending that may partly reflect adverse weather conditions.
"Part of that softness may reflect adverse weather conditions, but at this point it's difficult to discern exactly how much," she said. "In the weeks and months ahead, my colleagues and I will be attentive to signals that indicate whether the recovery is progressing in line with our earlier expectations."
UK consumer confidence reading kicks of data-heavy session
Already released this morning is the Britain's GfK Consumer Confidence reading, which showed sentiment in February was unchanged at -7 from the previous month, which itself was at the highest level in more than six years.
Managing Director of Social Research at GfK, Nick Moon, said: "After the substantial six point rise in the index last month, holding steady, rather than any form of correction, is good news. Just a year ago the index stood at -26, so the current level is massively better."
Also on today's agenda are UK mortgage approvals, while in the Eurozone inflation figures will be a prime focus as the European Central Bank (ECB) comes under mounting pressure to tackle falling prices.
Consumer prices in February are forecast by the consensus to have risen by 0.7% in February, in line with the prior month, and well below the ECB's 2% target. Barclays Research and Credit Suisse, on the other hand, see it coming in at 0.6%.
Another release in the Eurozone is predicted to show the unemployment rate held steady at 12%.
High unemployment and low inflation have been a major cause for concern in the euro-area. ECB President Mario Draghi has hinted that the central bank may enact greater measures to address these issues at its March meeting, following the release of economic forecasts.
In the US later on, the attention will turn to GDP, with the annual rate tipped to fall significantly to 2.5% in the fourth quarter from 3.2% last month.
Other US data includes the University of Michigan's consumer confidence, pending home sales, personal consumption and Chicago's purchasing managers' index.
Energy companies ordered to return £400m
Energy regulator Ofgem has told the "big six" energy suppliers to return in excess of £400m to customers from closed accounts. It is estimated that around 3.5m domestic and 0.3m accounts have credit left in them after users either switched suppliers or moved to a new property. An official announcement is expected later on today.
In this morning's company announcements, William Hill's annual pre-tax profit fell six per cent to £257m pounds as the gaming company invested heavily in it its online offering. In an effort to keep up with the growing online market, with consumers opting to gamble on tablets, computers and , the company launched mobile in new markets and took over full control of William Hill Online.
The owner of British Airways and Iberia, International Airlines Group, hailed the success of its turnaround strategy as it reported annual operating profit of 770m euros against losses of 23m euros a year ago.
FTSE 250-listed UBM posted a 3.2% rise in full-year revenue to £793.9m, but an 11.7% decline in continuing operating profit. On an adjusted basis, operating profit rose 6.3%, in what the group described as "a year of strategic progress and operational achievement [...] against a difficult economic backdrop". The company, which is an events-led marketing and communications services firm, said it looked ahead to the rest of 2014 "with confidence".