(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London closed higher on Tuesday, as investors are waiting to see a key inflation reading from the US on Friday.

The FTSE 100 index closed up 13.39 points, 0.2%, at 7,930.96. The FTSE 250 ended up 164.11 points, 0.8%, at 19,777.64, and the AIM All-Share closed up 2.26 points, 0.3%, at 739.52.

The Cboe UK 100 ended up 0.2% at 793.33, the Cboe UK 250 closed up 0.8% at 17,169.96, and the Cboe Small Companies ended up 0.1% at 14,624.32.

In European equities on Tuesday, the CAC 40 in Paris ended up 0.4%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt ended up 0.8%.

US orders for durable goods picked up in February after two months of falls, data on Tuesday showed.

According to the US Census Bureau, new orders for durable goods rose by 1.4% to USD277.9 billion in February. The FXStreet consensus expected an increase of 1.3%.

In January, new orders for durable goods fell by 6.1% to USD276.7 billion. This followed a 0.3% decrease in December.

"Durable goods orders are a good lead indicator for broader capex spending in the US. Unfortunately, ongoing weakness here suggests investment spending will remain a constraint on overall growth with the US' 2024 economic prospects being determined by the consumer," analysts at ING said.

This week, markets are awaiting the core personal consumer expenditure price index for February, which is the Fed's preferred inflation reading. It is due out on Friday.

According to FXStreet, the core PCE index is expected to unchanged annually at 2.8%. On a monthly basis, the reading is expected to ebb slightly to 0.3% in February, from 0.4% in January.

Kathleen Brooks at XTB said: "We will need to wait until Friday’s core PCE data to judge whether the three rate cuts from the Fed this year remains reasonable."

Stocks in New York were higher at the London equities close, with the DJIA up 0.3%, the S&P 500 index up 0.2%, and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.4%.

The pound was quoted at USD1.2626 at the London equities close Tuesday, down compared to USD1.2643 at the close on Monday. The euro stood at USD1.0828 at the European equities close Tuesday, lower against USD1.0838 at the same time on Monday. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JPY151.50, lower compared to JPY151.41 late Monday.

In the FTSE 100, Marks & Spencer rose 3.5%, whilst Ocado edged 2.7% higher.

Online grocer Ocado Retail, a joint venture between Ocado and Marks & Spencer, said sales in the 13 weeks to March 3 rose 11% to GBP645.3 million from GBP583.7 million a year before.

Ocado Retail Chief Executive Officer, Hannah Gibson, said: "We have made a strong start to the year."

Meanwhile, AJ Bell's Russ Mould said: "Any joint enterprise doesn’t have the best prospects if participants are at odds with each other, but the Ocado Retail venture has enjoyed a robust period of trading despite the differences between partners Marks & Spencer and online groceries specialist Ocado."

On the other hand, Auto Trader sunk 4.8% to the bottom of the index.

JPMorgan placed Auto Trader on 'negative catalyst watch' and reiterated an 'underweight' rating ahead of full-year results in May.

The bank highlighted a tougher market backdrop for 2024 for the Manchester-based automotive marketplace along with higher than expected losses in Autorama.

In the FTSE 250, Petershill Partners jumped 9.8%.

The London-based investment group said it swung to a pretax profit of USD397.1 million in 2023 from a pretax loss of USD505.1 million the year before. This was due to a gain from investments at fair value of USD227.0 million, compared to a loss of USD806.7 million the previous year.

Petershill proposed a final dividend of 10.1 US cents. This brought its total dividend to 15.0 US cents, up 3.4% from 14.5 cents the year before.

Also, Petershill said it was mulling launching a share buyback programme worth up to USD100 million, serving a notice to terminate the current programme.

John Wood lost 7.0%.

The Aberdeen, Scotland-based engineering and consulting business said revenue in 2023 rose 7.9% to USD5.90 billion from USD5.47 billion. Its pretax loss narrowed to USD62.7 million from USD691.4 million.

Chief Executive Officer Ken Gilmartin said Wood Group has launched a "simplification programme to drive efficiency". It is eyeing annualised cost savings of around USD60 million from 2025. The programme will have an "initial focus on central costs", where costs are expected to be trimmed by around USD10 million this year.

Amongst London's small-caps, Luceco shares jumped 14%.

The London-based lighting manufacturer and distributor said pretax profit surged 62% to GBP18.9 million in 2023 from GBP11.7 million a year prior. Revenue edged up 1.3% to GBP209.0 million from GBP206.3 million.

Chief Executive Officer John Hornby said: "These results are testament to the strength of the group's market positions, clear strategy and business model. As a result of the team's constant hard work, the group is exceedingly well-placed for growth through organic and further mergers & acquisitions activity in 2024 with its strong operational leverage and strong balance sheet."

Brent oil was quoted at USD85.94 a barrel at the London equities close Tuesday, down from USD86.06 late Monday.

Gold was quoted at USD2,176.17 an ounce at the London equities close Tuesday, higher against USD2,176.03 at the close on Monday.

In Wednesday's UK corporate calendar, Endeavour Mining will report its full year results.

The economic calendar for Wednesday has a eurozone consumer confidence and economic sentiment reading at 1000 GMT.

Overnight, there is consumer price inflation data from Australia.

By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

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