London pre-open: Stocks to edge lower ahead of key data
(ShareCast News) - London stocks were set for a slightly weaker open on Wednesday as investors eyed the release of key UK unemployment and wages data.
The FTSE 100 was expected to open down eight points at 7,392.
On the data front, the ILO unemployment rate, claimant count and average earnings are at 0930 BST.
CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: "Today's wages and unemployment data could well shift that dial further particularly if wages show further signs of edging higher in response to a tightening labour market. Over the last couple of months average earnings have managed to recover from lows of 1.7% to recover to 2.1%. This recovery is expected to continue in July with a rise to 2.2%, while the unemployment rate is expected to remain at a 42 year low of 4.4%.
"A solid wages number could shift the calculus on the MPC further towards a rate rise with Chief economist Andrew Haldane likely to join the other two hawks Michael Saunders and Ian McCafferty in pushing for a rate rise, given recent comments he made during the summer, when inflation ticked up to the same level it is now. He suggested that "beginning the process of withdrawing some of the incremental stimulus provided last August would be prudent moving into the second part of the year", though the caveat was that the data supported such a move."
In corporate news, Halfords has poached fellow retailer Dixons Carphone's software boss, Graham Stapleton, to take up the chief executive role vacated by the soon-to-depart Jill McDonald. Stapleton, who will take up the role in mid-January, currently heads up Dixons Carphone plc's software business, Honeybee, having previously run the Connected World Services division and been CEO of Carphone Warehouse UK & Ireland.
Retirement-focussed financial services firm Just Group reported 39% growth in its adjusted operating profit for the first half on Wednesday, with a focus on growth seeing new business profit improve 106%.
The FTSE 250 company said its IFRS statutory profit for the six months to 30 June was £66m, and the board declared an increased interim dividend of 1.17p.