(Alliance News) - Stocks in London are called to open slightly higher on Friday, with the euphoria from the US Federal Reserve's slight policy pivot running out of speed.

The week has been a busy one with interest rate decisions from the US Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of England. They all kept rates unchanged. Next week there are rate decisions from China and Japan to keep an eye on.

To round of the busy week of monetary policy decisions, there is a slew of preliminary purchasing managers' index data on Friday. This includes the eurozone at 0900 GMT, the UK at 0930 GMT and the US at 1445 GMT.

Already, markets have had PMI data from Japan. The au Jibun Japan flash composite output index improved to 50.4 points in December from November's final figure of 49.6, swinging back to growth territory above 50 points.

Here is what you need to know at the London market open:




FTSE 100: called up 0.1% at 7,659.30


Hang Seng: up 2.2% at 16,768.06

Nikkei 225: closed up 0.9% at 32,970.55

S&P/ASX 200: closed up 0.9% at 7,442.70


DJIA: closed up 158.11 points, 0.4%, at 37,248.35

S&P 500: closed up 12.46 points, or 0.3%, at 4,719.55

Nasdaq Composite: closed up 27.59 points, or 0.2%, at 14,761.56


EUR: down at USD1.0981 (USD1.0994)

GBP: down at USD1.2756 (USD1.2762)

USD: up at JPY142.10 (JPY141.60)

Gold: down at USD2,035.22 per ounce (USD2,039.11)

(Brent): up at USD76.78 a barrel (USD76.70)

(changes since previous London equities close)




Friday's key economic events still to come:

08:30 EST Canada wholesale trade

08:15 EST Canada housing starts

10:00 CET EU flash PMI

09:15 CET France flash PMI

09:30 CET Germany flash PMI

08:00 CET Germany wholesale price index

11:00 GMT Ireland trade balance

09:30 GMT UK flash PMI

09:45 EST US flash PMI

09:15 EST US industrial production

08:30 EST US Empire State manufacturing survey


Consumer confidence has increased amid Christmas cheer in a small but much-needed boost for retailers, figures show. GfK's long-running Consumer Confidence Index increased two points in December but remains firmly in negative territory at minus 22. Expectations for the general economic situation over the next 12 months increased by one point to minus 25 but has risen to 28 points higher than a year ago. Notably, confidence in personal finances – reflecting household financial optimism and control over budgets – has recovered from the depressed minus 29 of a year ago to minus 2. Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, said: "Against the backdrop of flat-lining economic growth, interest rates at a 15-year high, and price rises potentially eroding disposable income for years to come, the Consumer Confidence Index shows a modest improvement this month with gains across all key measures."




Socgen cuts Centrica to 'hold' (buy) - price target 160 (156) pence


JPMorgan places London Stock Exchange on 'analyst focus list'


Barclays raises Trainline to 'equal weight' (underweight) - price target 355 (270) pence




Investment trust Global Smaller Cos Trust reported its results for the six months ended October 31. Global Smaller Cos said that its net asset value fell to 153.67p. The company's NAV total return came in at negative 6.3% versus the benchmark of negative 3.6%. On the back of the results, Global Smaller Cos upped its interim dividend by 7.9% to 0.68p per share. "The first half of the 2023/24 financial year saw a continuation of some of the trends from the previous twelve months. In particular, the dominant talking point has been how long the period of heightened inflationary pressures will last, and consequently for how long interest rates need to remain at present or even higher levels," said Interim Chair Graham Oldroyd.




Naked Wines reported that revenue in the 26 weeks ended October 2 fell by 20% to GBP132.3 million from GBP165.8 million a year earlier. Pretax loss widened to GBP9.7 million from GBP215,000. Looking ahead, Naked Wines left its guidance unchanged, back in November, however, the firm lowered its outlook. It predicts annual sales for the year ending March 28 will fall between 12% and 16%, from GBP354.0 million a year prior. Executive Chair Rowan Gormley said: "We are moving towards a period of sustained cash generation. We have taken out GBP3 million of cost with GBP10 million more to come and expect to generate GBP40-50 million of cash from inventory over the next 18 months. In addition we have made good progress with testing an enhanced customer proposition to restore us to growth."


Alumasc confirmed that the UK Competition & Markets Authority has cleared its acquisition of ARP Group. The GBP10.0 million acquisition is now expected to complete by the end of December. Alumasc is a Kettering, England-based supplier of building and engineering products. ARP Group comprises ARP Group and its subsidiary Aluminium Roofline Products; together with Rainwater Online Holdings and its subsidiaries Envelope Solutions and Cast Iron Superstore. Paul Hooper, chief executive of Alumasc, said: "This acquisition aligns with our strategy to accelerate our organic growth with earnings enhancing bolt-on acquisitions, and we are delighted that it has cleared its final regulatory hurdle. We are excited about the scaling up opportunities this transaction brings to both companies and look forward to welcoming the ARP team into Alumasc Group."


On Thursday, Costco announced a first-quarter earnings hike and declared a special dividend worth USD6.7 billion. The Seattle, Washington-based membership-only retailer said net sales in the first-quarter to November 26 totalled USD56.72 billion, an increase of 6.1% from USD53.44 billion a year prior. Net income was 16% higher on-year at USD1.59 billion from USD1.36 billion. Per share, its bottom line expanded to USD3.58 from USD3.07. It said comparable sales in the US rose 2.0% year-on-year, 6.4% in Canada and 11% in its other international markets. In addition, it declared a USD15 per share special dividend, USD6.7 billion in total.


By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

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