London pre-open: US non-farm payrolls data in focus
Stocks were being called to begin the session with slight losses ahead of the release of the all-important monthly US jobs report.
The FTSE 100 was seen starting the day 22 points lower from the previous session close of 7,337.28.
Analysts expected US non-farm payrolls to show a rise of 177,000 people while the unemployment rate was seen steady at 4.3%.
The day before, consultancy ADP revealed that US private sector payrolls increased by 158,000 in June, which was short of forecasts for an increase of 187,0000.
Usually that might be interpreted as a warning signal ahead of the official monthly jobs data; however, analysts were quick to point out on Thursday that seasonal quirks lay behind the weaker-than-expected ADP data.
On a related note, Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior market analyst at LCG, said: "Although the correlation between the ADP and non-farm payroll (NFP) data is not stable, the 12-month correlation stood between 65% - 80% since the beginning of 2017. In this context, if the June non-farm payrolls miss the estimates, the US yields could fell off the stage and the selling pressure in the US dollar could intensify. The consensus for the June NFP is 178’000 versus 138’000 printed a month earlier. The average hourly earnings may have improved by 0.3% month-on-month, from 0.2%."
Back in the UK, analysts were waiting on data for industrial production, foreign trade and construction which were set for release by ONS at 0930 BST.
Against that backdrop, overnight consultancy BDO said like-for-like sales on the High Street grew by 1.3% in June, the best tally for that month of the year in six years.
Ultra goes shopping overseas
Defence, security, transport and energy company Ultra Electronics entered into a conditional merger agreement to acquire New York Stock Exchange-listed electromechanical device maker Sparton for $23.50 per Sparton share in cash, valuing Sparton's total equity at approximately $234.8m (£180.6m). The FTSE 250 firm said that as part of the acquisition, Ultra would assume Sparton's net debt, and adjusting for the targeted cost savings, this equated to a pro forma FY2016 EV/EBITDA multiple of 7.6 times.
Homewares retailer Dunelm Group updated the market on its financial year to 1 July on Friday, takking investors that total revenue for the fourth quarter rose 17.7% to £240.0m. The FTSE 250 firm said total revenue, excluding Worldstores, rose by 6.7% to £217.4m, with total like-for-like growth - combining LFL stores and home delivery - grew by 3.8%.
Howden Joinery Group has poached Screwfix boss Andrew Livingston from larger rival Kingfisher to fill the hole left as chief executive Matthew Ingle announced his retirement after 22 years after founding the company.