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Important information: The value of investments can go down as well as up so you may get back less than you invest. Investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. This is a third-party news feed and may not reflect Fidelity’s views.

London pre-open: Stocks seen down as investors mull UK jobs data

(Sharecast News) - London stocks were set to fall at the open on Tuesday following a downbeat session in Asia, as investors mulled the latest UK jobs data. The FTSE 100 was called to open 25 points lower at 7,570.

Figures released earlier by the Office for National Statistics showed that wage growth eased in the three months to November, while unemployment was unchanged.

Total pay including bonuses rose 6.5%, down from 7.2% in the previous three-month period and in line with consensus expectations.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.2% in the three months to November and the ONS estimated that the number of payrolled employees in December fell by 24,000 from a revised November figure to 30.2m.

In corporate news, Vodafone said it has signed a 10-year strategic partnership with American software giant Microsoft which will see the UK telecoms group invest $1.5bn over the next decade to transform its customer experience using generative artificial intelligence.

In return, Microsoft will use Vodafone's fixed and mobile connectivity services, and invest in its managed internet of things connectivity platform, which will become a separate, standalone business by April 2024.

Ocado said that Ocado Retail - its joint venture with Marks & Spencer - has returned to positive EBITDA for the full year.

In an update for the 13 weeks to 26 November, the company said fourth-quarter retail revenue came in at £609.4m, up 10.9% on the same quarter a year earlier and marking a fourth consecutive period of quarter-on-quarter growth and a significant increase on the 7.2% reported in Q3.

Ocado Retail chief executive Hannah Gibson said: "We made significant progress in 2023. We have focused first and foremost on being a great shopkeeper, improving our unbeatable range, great value and unrivalled experience - all underpinned by improved cost efficiencies.

"Our Perfect Execution programme set a high bar for our performance, and we are pleased to have finished the year with strong momentum."

Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto reported a rise in annual iron ore shipments as a ramp-up of production at its Gudai Darri mine in Western Australia offset mine depletion.

Shipments in 2023 were up 3% to 331.8 million metric tons, the mid-point of its guidance of 320 - 335 Mt and in line with analysts' forecasts.

Fourth-quarter shipments fell 1% to 86.3 million Mt.

The world's largest iron ore producer also reiterated its fiscal 2024 iron ore shipments forecast of 323 - 338 M.

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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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