(Alliance News) - Stock prices are called to open higher on Friday, ahead of a slew of manufacturing data.

"Thank God! Yesterday's inflation report from the US wasn't worse than expected," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank.

US inflation pressure eased a touch at the start of the year, according to new data.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the core personal consumption expenditure grew 2.8% on-year in January, easing from December's 2.9% rise. The core PCE reading is the Fed's preferred inflation gauge.

The outcome came out in line with FXStreet cited consensus.

Here is what you need to know at the London market open:




FTSE 100: called up 0.8% at 7,690.60


Hang Seng: up 0.3% at 16,563.34

Nikkei 225: closed up 1.9% at 39,910.82

S&P/ASX 200: closed up 0.6% at 7,745.60


DJIA: closed up 47.37 points, 0.1%, at 38,996.39

S&P 500: closed up 26.51 points, 0.5%, to 5,096.27

Nasdaq Composite: closed up 144.18 points, 0.9%, to 16,091.92


EUR: down at USD1.0809 (USD1.0811)

GBP: down at USD1.2628 (USD1.2636)

USD: up at JPY150.36 (JPY149.82)

Gold: up at USD2,046.55 per ounce (USD2,045.84)

(Brent): up at USD82.16 a barrel (USD82.13)

(changes since previous London equities close)




Friday's key economic events still to come:

09:30 EST Canada manufacturing PMI

10:00 CET eurozone manufacturing PMI

11:00 CET eurozone CPI

11:00 CET eurozone unemployment

09:50 CET France manufacturing PMI

09:55 CET Germany manufacturing PMI

11:00 GMT Ireland average weekly earnings

11:00 GMT Ireland current account

11:00 GMT Ireland GDP

09:30 GMT UK S&P Global manufacturing PMI

14:00 GMT UK Bank of England Chief Economist Huw Pill speaks

09:45 EST US S&P Global manufacturing PMI

10:00 EST US ISM manufacturing PMI

10:00 EST US Michigan consumer sentiment index

10:00 EST US construction spending

10:15 EST US Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller speaks

13:00 EST US Baker Hughes oil rig count


UK house prices edged higher in February, according to figures from Nationwide on Friday. The Nationwide house price index showed a 0.7% increase in seasonally-adjusted UK house prices in February, unchanged from a month earlier. In January, the average UK house price stood at GBP260,420, up slightly from GBP257,656 in December, without seasonal adjustment. "The decline in borrowing costs around the turn of the year appears to have prompted an uptick in the housing market. Indeed, industry data sources point to a noticeable increase in mortgage applications at the start of the year, while surveyors also reported a rise in new buyer enquiries," said Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist.




Berenberg cuts Relx to 'hold' (buy) - price target 3,500 (3,300) pence


Numis cuts St James's Place to 'hold' (buy) - price target 500 (1,050) pence


Davy starts IMI with 'outperform' - price target 2,500 pence




In 2023, Rightmove revenue jumped 10% on-year to GBP364.3 million from GBP332.6 million. The company explained that revenue rose as customers continued to upgrade their packages and increase their use of digital products. Pretax profit in the year climbed to GBP259.8 million from GBP241.3 million. On the back of the results, Rightmove paid out a final dividend of 5.7p, bring the total dividend to 9.3p up from 8.5p. "In a year of economic uncertainty, consumers continued to trust Rightmove as the place to turn to help them make their move. Customers were able to choose from an expanded, more sophisticated product suite, to continue to drive business results in a changing market environment," Chief Executive Johan Svanstrom said. "Our financial performance in 2023 reflects the strength of our business model and our platform network effects."


IMI reported that revenue in 2023 jumped to GBP2.20 billion from GBP2.05 billion a year earlier. Pretax profit rose to GBP319 million from GBP298 million. Adjusted asic earnings per share rose to 116.8p from 105.5p. On the back of the results, IMI upped its dividend per share by 10% to 28.3p from 25.7p. Based on current market conditions, IMI expect 2024 full year adjusted basic EPS to be between 120p and 126p. CEO Roy Twite said: "We continued to make significant progress in 2023 as we delivered our fourth consecutive year of profit and adjusted operating margin growth. Our purpose-led strategy, Breakthrough engineering for a better world, is accelerating performance as we continue to help our customers become safer, more sustainable, and more productive. We have a resilient portfolio with around 45% of sales now generated from the aftermarket, and our sectors are aligned to attractive growth markets supported by long-term global macroeconomic trends. Both our operating platforms increased revenues and margins in the year."




Tritax Big Box REIT reported that net rental income in 2023 jumped to GBP222.1 million from GBP206.0 million a year earlier. The company swung to a pretax profit of GBP70.6 million from a loss of GBP601.0 million. Tritax upped its dividend by 4.3% to 7.30p from 7.00p. Chair Aubrey Adams said: "We are confident in delivering our strategy and are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities both inherent within our business, and from an increasing number of opportunities in the market. The group has very good potential for long-term income and capital growth, supported by enduring structural drivers in the logistics real estate market."


ITV said it has sold its entire 50% interest in digital subscription streaming service BritBox International to its joint venture partner BBC Studios for a cash consideration of GBP255 million. "The sale reflects ITV's strategy of focusing on supercharging its UK advertiser-funded streaming service, ITVX and growing its global Studios division," ITV said. The board intends to return the entire net sale proceeds to shareholders through a share buyback which it expects to launch after the release of its full year results on March 7. Carolyn McCall, ITV CEO, said: "The sale of 50% of BritBox International means ITV is focused on its core strategic goals of continuing to build on ITVX's success and growing ITV Studios."




Dar Global reported that revenue surged to USD360.6 million from USD80.0 million a year earlier. The company swung to a pretax profit of USD81.2 million from a loss of USD5.2 million. CEO Ziad El Chaar said: "Looking forward, our exciting pipeline of developments and strong capital position means Dar Global is well placed to selectively enter new markets where we see compelling opportunities including as recently announced in Saudi Arabia. This positions us to achieve our strategic objectives in the coming years with renewed confidence."


By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

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