1630: Close Stocks ended the week on a broadly positive note, with both insurers and miners putting in a strong performance. On the macro front, UK retail sales data delivered a surprise after volumes grew 2.6 per cent month-on-month (5.3 per cent year-on-year) in December, while over in the US the University of Michigan's consumer confidence index slipped to 80.4 points in January. Stateside equity markets are mixed, while the prices of both gold and oil are higher. The FTSE 100 closed down 13.88 points at 6,829.30.
1500: The University of Michigan's consumer confidence index slipped to 80.4 points in January, after a reading of 82.5 in the month before.
The consensus estimate had been for a print of 83.5.
1346: Parcel delivery firm UPS warns on fourth quarter profits, now anticipates earnings per share for the full-year at 4.57 dollars, below previous guidance for between 4.65 and 4.85 dollars in profits. The company is considered by many to be a bellwether for the US economy. FTSE 100 up 2 to 6,817.
1330: US housing starts fell 9.8 per cent over the month in December to 999,000 (consensus: 990,000).
1215: US banking giant Morgan Stanley reports fourth quarter adjusted net profits of 50 cents (consensus: 44 cents).
1130: US industrial conglomerate General Electric has released fourth quarter earnings per share of 53 cents, just as expected, while revenues have come in slightly ahead of forecasts. FTSE 100 up 17 to 6,832.
1030: Commenting on today's retail sales data this is what Dr. Howard Archer, Chief UK+European economist at IHS Global Insight, had to say: "Looking ahead, there is some uncertainty as to how robust consumer spending will be in the early months of 2014. It is very possible that consumers could take a breather after finally splashing out for Christmas and in the sales [...] The good news for growth prospects is that the squeeze on purchasing power now seems to be progressively if gradually easing." FTSE 100 up 24 to 6,840.
0930: UK retail sales grew at a 2.6 per cent month-on-month pace in December, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The consensus expectation was for an increase of 0.4 per cent.
0928: Rise in shares
of Admiral is being attributed to a positive report on the insurance sector in today's FT.
0845: UK stocks have started the day slightly higher despite the mixed close to trading seen overnight on Wall Street. Petrochemicals giant Shell is weighing most on the Footsie after unveiling fourth quarter earnings of just 2.9bn dollars, instead of the approximately 4bn dollars expected by analysts. William Hill is also moving lower after a trading update. Joining them today at the bottom of the pile is RBS. Analysts at Investec have downgraded their recommendation for the largely publicly-owned lender to 'sell.' Petrofac is the beneficiary this morning of an upgrade from Nomura to 'buy' from 'neutral'. Shares of US chip giant Intel dropped by almost five per cent in 'after-hours' trading following its latest quarterly results. FTSE 100 up 3 to 6,819.