(Alliance News) - Stocks in London are set to open higher on Friday, ahead of data on the UK economy.

IG says futures indicate the FTSE 100 to open up 31.7 points, 0.4%, at 7,955.5 on Friday. The index of London large-caps closed down 37.41 points, 0.5%, at 7,923.80 on Thursday.

The European Central Bank remains on course to lower interest rates at its June meeting. The ECB left its key interest rates unchanged, as widely expected, but policymakers said they will cut rates should they gain confidence that inflation is falling to the bank's 2% target.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde again affirmed a "data dependent" approach to interest rate decisions, but did add that some in the Governing Council already have the confidence to cut.

Lagarde said in a post-decision press conference: "A few members felt sufficiently confident [to cut interest rates], on the basis of the limited data that we received in April."

On Wednesday, hopes of rate cuts in the US were crushed by inflation data.

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the year-on-year rate of consumer price inflation picked up to 3.5% last month, from 3.2% in February, taking it further above the Fed's 2% inflation target.

The rate of consumer price inflation had been expected to pick up to just 3.4%, according to FXStreet cited consensus. The rate of inflation is now at its most lofty since September.

Thursday's US producer price data was less robust, but did pick up. US producer price growth accelerated to 2.1% year-on-year in March, from 1.6% in February.

In the US on Thursday, Wall Street ended higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average little changed, the S&P 500 up 0.7% and the Nasdaq Composite up 1.7%.

Sterling was quoted at USD1.2541 early Friday, higher than USD1.2513 at the London equities close on Thursday. The euro traded at USD1.0712 early Friday, higher than USD1.0705 late Thursday. Against the yen, the dollar was quoted at JPY153.19, down versus JPY153.30.

In Asia on Friday, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo was up 0.4%. In China, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.1%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 1.6%. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed down 0.3%.

Gold was quoted at USD2,387.90 an ounce early Friday, higher than USD2,338.05 on Thursday.

Brent oil was trading at USD90.27 a barrel early Friday, higher than USD89.94 late Thursday.

Friday's economic calendar has a UK gross domestic product reading and German inflation data at 0700 BST.

In the local corporate diary, building materials company SigmaRoc reports a trading statement.

Over in New York, the banking earnings season kicks off. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo release first-quarter numbers. Asset manager BlackRock also reports.

By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

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