However today, price data for the UK came in better than expected. Consumer price inflation remained steady at annual rate of 4.0% in January, while 4.2% was expected. These figures renewed hopes of rate cuts by the Bank of England, after data published yesterday showed that the job market was resilient and wages increased. Markets now anticipate around 70 basis points of cuts this year, up from about 60 bps before the data.

The pound weakened against the dollar after the announcement, bolstering equities on the exporter-heavy FTSE 100, which gained 0.5% at 9am.

In corporate news, Coca-Cola HBC expects profit to grow in 2024 after reporting a record annual profit, helped by strong demand for its products and easing cost pressures. The company forecasts comparable operating profit growth between 3% to 9% in 2024. Organic revenue per case for 2023 was up 15%.

United Utilities Group and Severn Trent provided trading updates, maintaining their financial guidance for the fiscal year. United Utilities reported a strong operating performance since its interim results in November, with no material changes to its financial outlook. Severn Trent also reported a robust financial performance in line with expectations and retained its annual forecast.

Bloomsbury Publishing shares rose after the company announced it expects annual results to be significantly ahead of upgraded market expectations, driven by increasing demand for fantasy fiction.

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