The FTSE 100 opened flat on Thursday morning after hitting a near four-year high the day before, with economic data from China and well-received results from Tesco providing some support early on.
The Footsie finished at 6,099 on Wednesday, its highest closing level since May 22nd 2008.
Chinese trade rebounded strongly last month, lifting sentiment this morning. The trade surplus totalled $31.6bn in December, well ahead of the $19.6bn surplus reported in November and the $20bn forecast.
Exports jumped by 14.1% year-on-year, ahead of the 5% estimate, while imports also beat expectations rising by 6%, ahead of the 3.5% estimate.
However, market analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari said that investors don't appear to be getting too carried away with the data "and for good reason".
"Chinese trade data has been quite volatile over the last 12 months so we shouldn't read too much into a single figure. Especially when the next year is going to be extremely difficult for two of its largest trading partners, the US and the Eurozone."
The markets' focus today will likely be on central bank decisions in the UK and Europe, with the Bank and England and European Central Bank scheduled to report this afternoon. Both are expected to maintain current policy.
FTSE 100: Tesco and Bunzl provide a lift
Internet purchases supported a moderate rise in sales at Tesco, according to the supermarket chain's latest trading statement. Group sales in the six weeks to January 5th increased by 3.8% including petrol, causing shares to rise.
International distribution and outsourcing giant Bunzl was also higher after completing three further purchases in South America and the US, bringing its 2012 total acquisition spend to £270m pounds.
Heading the other day was High Street giant Marks & Spencer after reporting worse-than-expected sales figures for the key Christmas period in a trading update that was partially leaked the night before. LFL sales in the UK dropped by 1.8%, worse than the 1.4% decline expected by Nomura.
Banks were performing well this morning with RBS, Lloyds and Standard Chartered making gains. The latter was lifted this morning by Societe Generale, which upgraded its rating to 'buy' and hiked its target price for the shares from 1,530p to 1,900p.
FTSE 250: Pace jumps on upbeat guidance
TV decoder maker Pace surged after saying that full-year revenue is expected to be ahead of previous forecasts and 4% higher than last year. The West Yorkshire based firm said it expects revenue to be around $2.4bn after a strong second half.
Lighting, signalling and electronics group Dialight was higher after expressing confidence for a "continued strong performance in 2013".
Datafeed and UK data supplied by NETbuilder and Interactive Data.
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