London open: Stocks nudge higher ahead of retail sales; Paris shooting in focus
London stocks nudged higher in early trade as investors eyed the release of UK retail sales figures and digested the terror attack in Paris late on Thursday, with earnings also in focus.
At 0830 BST, the FTSE 100 was up 0.2% to 7,133.86, while the pound was 0.1% firmer versus the dollar at 1.2817.
CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said the UK consumer was going to be in the spotlight along with the pound after this week’s strong rebound in the wake of the election announcement.
“We saw a big rebound in March retail sales of 1.4% after three months of weak numbers, and while this was welcome it doesn’t disguise the fact that rising prices have been squeezing consumer incomes and curbing spending habits in recent months."
“Having said that inflation does appear to have plateaued a little and employment levels remain high while wages are just about holding up. Could we see a March surprise or will we see the numbers fall back? Expectations are for a decline of 0.3% with annualised sales falling to 3.4%.”
The retail sales figures are due at 0930 BST.
Events in Paris were also being mulled after a police officer was killed and two others injured in a shooting on the Champs-Élysées that was later claimed by so-called Islamic State. It transpired that the gunman - who was shot dead as he tried to flee the scene - had been under preliminary investigation for terrorism but had been let go due to a lack of evidence.
The shooting came just three days before the first round of presidential elections.
In corporate news, rail, telecoms and defence engineer WS Atkins rallied after agreeing late on Thursday to be taken over by Canada's SNC-Lavalin for £2.1bn.
Property developer Hammerson was flat as it secured a £360m loan at an initial margin of 90 basis points from a syndicate of fourteen banks in a bid to reduce its debt.
Private equity firm Electra nudged higher after saying it has received £67m from AXIO Group in relation to the sale of RISI.
Consumer products group Reckitt Benckiser declined after it reported flat sales for the first quarter, while Restaurant Group was under pressure after its finance chief left following less than a year at the company.
Sports direct ticked up after receiving approval to go ahead with the $101m acquisition of Bob’s Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports in the US.
TalkTalk and Domino’s Pizza were boosted by upgrades from HSBC and Peel Hunt, respectively.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,175.50p 3.50%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 365.70p 3.39%
Glencore (GLEN) 308.00p 2.51%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,163.50p 2.38%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,230.00p 2.24%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 841.00p 1.82%
Croda International (CRDA) 3,578.00p 1.73%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,961.00p 1.29%
CRH (CRH) 2,710.00p 1.27%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 1,597.00p 1.08%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 7,190.00p -1.17%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,115.00p -1.15%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 5,174.00p -0.84%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 542.00p -0.64%
Diageo (DGE) 2,193.00p -0.50%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,089.00p -0.43%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 973.50p -0.41%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,586.00p -0.38%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,578.00p -0.36%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 241.60p -0.33%
FTSE 250 - Risers
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 198.00p 4.76%
Atkins (WS) (ATK) 2,067.00p 4.29%
Redefine International (RDI) 38.70p 3.20%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 151.60p 2.78%
Virgin Money Holdings (UK) (VM.) 311.10p 2.78%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 329.60p 2.36%
Evraz (EVR) 211.70p 2.12%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 329.00p 1.92%
Card Factory (CARD) 318.00p 1.89%
Shawbrook Group (SHAW) 345.00p 1.86%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Restaurant Group (RTN) 353.80p -3.17%
Nostrum Oil & Gas (NOG) 457.70p -2.41%
Ascential (ASCL) 312.80p -2.34%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,081.00p -2.26%
SSP Group (SSPG) 431.30p -1.98%
Polypipe Group (PLP) 395.00p -1.89%
Essentra (ESNT) 523.00p -1.78%
CYBG (CYBG) 272.60p -1.55%
Indivior (INDV) 316.20p -1.34%
Senior (SNR) 210.30p -1.13%