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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 higher on US gains; payrolls in focus

(Sharecast News) - London stocks were set to jump at the open on Friday following strong gains on Wall Street, as investors eyed the latest US non-farm payrolls report. The FTSE 100 was called to open 60 points higher at 7,682.

The payrolls report for January 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%."

Across the pond, shares in Meta and Amazon surged in after-hours trade after well-received results.

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.

Andy Sumpter, EMEA retail consultant at Sensormatic Solutions, said: "With disruption from two named storms in January dampening footfall, retailers also faced tempestuous trading conditions caused by the ongoing cost of living spending squeeze and stubbornly sticky inflation."

However, he noted that the performance was better than December's "which, while marginal, may signal the beginning of a bounce back, giving retailers cause for cautious optimism for a recovery.

"Many will be hoping as inflation continues to slow, consumer confidence will start to rise enough to loosen the squeeze on incomes to the point that this begins to materially translate into both footfall and sales."

In corporate news, Hikma Pharmaceuticals said it has 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.

Hikma said the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing, adding that it would continue to defend against any unresolved litigation.

Low-cost airline Wizz Air reported a 14.2% rise in January passenger numbers but load factor fell due to the conflict in Gaza and an increase in one-way traffic.

The budget carrier said it carried 4.74 million passengers at a load factor of 82.0%, down 4.4 percentage points.

Load factor measures the percentage of available seating capacity that has been filled with passengers.

"Wizz Air is actively implementing measures to optimize our network and adapt to these dynamic conditions, with the aim of enhancing efficiency and supporting a recovery in load factors going forward," the company said.

It reinstated flights between Aqaba (Jordan) and Abu Dhabi, starting from February 4 and announced it would restart operations into Tel Aviv in Israel, with routes from Budapest, Sofia, Bucharest, Krakow, London and Rome opening from the beginning of March.

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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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