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London open: Stocks rise as US tech earnings boost sentiment; payrolls eyed

(Sharecast News) - London stocks rose in early trade on Friday following strong gains on Wall Street and well-received results from Meta and Amazon, as investors eyed the latest US non-farm payrolls report. At 0850 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 0.3% at 7,647.74.

Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "The FTSE 100's expected to end the week higher after a flurry of results from across the pond last night, which set a rather positive scene.

"The market was hit by a wave of tech earnings on Thursday night, and it seems these huge names are still carrying the market on its back. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.0% while both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.3%. Meta has seen a remarkable share price jump, as it announced its first ever quarterly dividend and a hefty share buyback.

"The topping of estimates also came as a very welcome surprise - the advertising revenue landscape remains very lumpy and Meta's navigating this well. The potency of its offering is clear to see, with advertising impressions rising by a fifth, and price increases are tapering to more customer-friendly levels. The returning of cash to shareholders is a bold and well-regarded move.

"It was also a good night for Amazon, which took a gamble when it hired swathes of extra seasonal workers over Christmas. Retail margins have been squashed in the past when demand failed to show up following over-zealous capacity ramp ups. The world's largest retailer comfortably beat analyst expectations with quarterly revenue of $170bn. The record period shows there's still plenty of consumer strength rattling through economies, and Amazon will be hoping to capitalise on that through new AI shopping assistant tools."

On the macro front, investors eyed the payrolls report for January, which is due at 1330 GMT, along with the unemployment rate and average earnings.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: "Today's January payrolls report is expected to see 185k new jobs added, down from 216k in December while wages are expected to remain unchanged at 4.1%.

"The unemployment rate is expected to nudge higher to 3.8%, after last month's surprise slide to 3.7% although part of the reason for that was a sharp fall in the participation rate to 62.5% from 62.8%, which was a little unexpected. This could well get revised away with an expectation that this could see a tick back higher to 62.6%."

On home shores, industry data showed that retail footfall continued to fall in January as wet and windy weather put off potential bargain hunters.

According to the latest BRC-Sensormatic IQ footfall monitor, total UK footfall fell 2.8% in January, though that was a marginal improvement on December's 5% decline.

Within that footfall on high streets decreased by 2.3%, by 1.8% in retail parks and by 5% in shopping centres.

January normally sees shoppers seek bargains in the sales. However, the British Retail Consortium said increasingly bad weather had kept people at home.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive, said: "Many consumers appear particularly bargain-focused, with the first half of the month boosted by the January sales.

"However, the latter part of January saw fewer shoppers out as stormy weather led to a bigger footfall decline in shopping centres and high streets."

On high streets, footfall was up 5.6% in the first week and 1.5% in the second. It fell by 7.5% in the third week, however, and slumped 10% in the fourth.

In equity markets, BT Group was among the gainers as Citi reiterated its 'overweight' stance on the shares after Thursday's update.

Budget airlines Wizz Air and easyJet both flew higher as Barclays upgraded the shares to 'equalweight' from 'underweight' and to 'overweight' from 'equalweight', respectively.

Wizz was also in focus after it reported a 14.2% rise in January passenger numbers but said the load factor fell due to the conflict in Gaza and an increase in one-way traffic. BA and Iberia owner IAG also advanced.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals was in focus after saying it had reached an agreement in principle to settle opioid-related claims with US states, local communities and tribal nations. The settlement, covering cases related to prescription opioid medications, involves a payment of up to $115m in cash and $35m worth of naloxone donations, an opioid overdose-reversal medication.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,647.74 0.34% FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,301.89 0.89% techMARK (TASX) 4,392.15 0.70%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Barclays (BARC) 150.20p 2.85% BT Group (BT.A) 111.95p 2.71% Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 272.80p 2.10% Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 304.60p 1.94% International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 148.40p 1.85% Severn Trent (SVT) 2,639.00p 1.77% Entain (ENT) 999.60p 1.73% Diageo (DGE) 2,953.00p 1.65% United Utilities Group (UU.) 1,080.00p 1.65% Vodafone Group (VOD) 68.32p 1.56%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

BP (BP.) 457.60p -1.73% Fresnillo (FRES) 514.00p -1.53% Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,258.00p -1.01% Diploma (DPLM) 3,308.00p -0.96% 3i Group (III) 2,331.00p -0.85% Kingfisher (KGF) 214.20p -0.83% Rio Tinto (RIO) 5,454.00p -0.60% Compass Group (CPG) 2,131.00p -0.56% Smurfit Kappa Group (CDI) (SKG) 2,864.00p -0.56% Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,740.00p -0.51%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 2,095.00p 5.59% Helios Towers (HTWS) 79.90p 4.92% FDM Group (Holdings) (FDM) 472.00p 4.89% IP Group (IPO) 55.00p 4.56% Discoverie Group (DSCV) 816.00p 4.08% Volution Group (FAN) 442.80p 4.04% Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 2,220.00p 3.74% W.A.G Payment Solutions (WPS) 88.00p 3.53% Indivior (INDV) 1,398.00p 3.48% PPHE Hotel Group Ltd (PPH) 1,240.00p 3.33%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Close Brothers Group (CBG) 515.50p -2.27% IntegraFin Holding (IHP) 282.60p -0.91% Essentra (ESNT) 171.00p -0.81% Ascential (ASCL) 299.00p -0.80% PZ Cussons (PZC) 129.20p -0.77% Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 184.60p -0.75% Ithaca Energy (ITH) 134.70p -0.66% Me Group International (MEGP) 125.00p -0.64% Asia Dragon Trust (DGN) 340.00p -0.58% BlackRock Smaller Companies Trust (BRSC) 1,330.00p -0.45%

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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