ADVFN Morning London Market Report: Friday 19 Feb 2016

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London open: FTSE opens flat ahead of UK retail sales, US inflation

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The FTSE 100 opened flat on Friday investors awaited the release of data on UK retail sales and US inflation.

UK retail sales data for January from the Office for National Statistics is expected to reveal a 3.4% increase year-on-year and a 0.7% month-on-month rise. Retail sales figures are a closely watched by investors as it is a major contributor to gross domestic product.

US inflation will also be in focus amid speculation on the next change in interest rates.

The consumer price index is expected to rise 1.3% year-on-year in January compared to 0.7% the previous month, moving closer to the Federal Reserve’s 2% target. Such an improvement in inflation might increase the chances of an interest rate hike at next month’s policy meeting.

Meanwhile, oil prices were mixed after data from the Energy Information Administration showed US crude inventories rose by 2.1m barrels last week to a peak of 504.1m barrels. It marked the third week of record highs in the past month and added to concerns about the global oversupply.

The data came as Iraq’s oil minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Thursday that talks would continue between OPEC and non-OPEC members to find a solution to push oil prices higher.

Brent crude rose 0.14% to $34.33 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate fell 0.55% to $30.60 per barrel at 0857 GMT.

In company news, shares in Coca-Cola HBC rallied after the company reported an increase in full year volumes and earnings despite foreign exchange having an adverse impact on revenues.

Standard Life’s shares jumped after saying pre-tax operating profits rose 9% to £665m with a £38m reduction in the spread/risk margin and diluted operating EPS of 26.1p.

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