In any case, their respective speeches yesterday weighed on stock market indices. To top it all off, they coincided with the announcement of a 0.3% contraction in German GDP in 2023, making the eurozone's largest economy the only country in recession in the G7. The FTSE 100 was down 0.3%.

This morning, UK shares remained in the red, with sentiment dented by new data showing growth in British wages excluding bonuses slowed to 6.6% in the September-to-November period compared with the same period a year earlier. The UK's jobless rate remained at 4.2%, with a slowdown in pay growth during the September-to-November period. The pound fell following the release of the data.

Among corporate news, E-commerce company THG has signed an agreement in principle with Holland & Barrett for a potential e-commerce partnership in the UK and Ireland. The collaboration, pending employee consultation, would last three years, making Ingenuity the main e-commerce operational partner for Holland & Barrett in the specified regions. 

Defense and security company QinetiQ Group is set to launch a £100 million share buyback program, subject to shareholder approval. The 12-month initiative aims to enhance shareholder returns while maintaining financial flexibility for long-term growth strategies. 

Vodafone Group has entered into a 10-year strategic partnership with Microsoft, investing $1.5 billion in cloud and AI services. Microsoft will also invest in Vodafone's managed IoT connectivity platform, which is expected to become a standalone entity by April. 

Earnings season continues, with Ocado Retail, a joint venture between Ocado Group and Marks & Spencer, reporting a 7% year-over-year increase in retail revenue for FY23. Meanwhile, Experian expects its revenue growth for fiscal 2024 to be at the higher end of its guided range, with organic revenue growth of 6% and total revenue growth of 7% in the third quarter. The company now anticipates annual organic revenue growth between 5% and 6%.

Money transfer company Wise has raised its annual profit growth forecast, citing a 40% increase in third-quarter income. The company now expects full-year income growth between 42%-44%.

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