(ShareCast News) - Stocks in London were steady in early trade as investors eyed the release of UK manufacturing and industrial production numbers and a speech by US President-elect Donald Trump, while sifting through corporate news.
At 0830 GMT, the FTSE 100 was flat at 7,277.19. Meanwhile, oil prices were a touch higher, with West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude up 0.3% to $50.95 and $53.81 a barrel, respectively.
Accendo Markets' Mike van Dulken said: "In focus today will be President-elect Trump's press conference at 4pm UK this afternoon, possibly his last official appearance before a his Jan 20 inauguration. After his latest bout of furious tweeting and success in encouraging corporates to expand at home rather than abroad, what will he have to add, and will he comment on overnight 'kompromat' claims about his links to Russia and conduct behind closed doors?
"Data-wise November updates on UK Industrial and Manufacturing Production and Construction Output are released. The former is forecast to rebound from its weakest since summer 2012 while Manufacturing reverses a 6-month downtrend to return positive. After last week's PMI Construction print showed continued recovery from a summer Brexit wobble, all eyes will be on whether Construction Output bounces back from a weak October."
In corporate news, Sainsbury's rallied after it said third quarter like-for-like grocery sales were only just positive but last year's acquisition of Argos helped lift the group as online sales proved a decisive factor over the key festive period. Total group sales for the 15 weeks to 7 January rose 0.8%, with group LFL sales up 1.0%. Supermarket LFLs edged up 0.1% but Argos LFLs climbed 4%.
Recruiter PageGroup gained ground as it posted a rise in fourth-quarter gross profit and said it expects operating profit for 2016 to be towards the top end of the range of market forecasts.
Cineworld edged higher after reporting a jump in total revenue for the year to the end of December 2016 as it reached record admissions levels and said its performance overall is expected to be in line with current market views.
Ted Baker pushed up as it posted a 17.9% jump in retail sales for the eight-week period from 13 November to 7 January.
On the downside, aerospace and defence group Cobham tanked as it posted group trading profit below guidance for the year ended 31 December and said it was not recommending a final dividend.
Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey nudged down after saying UK home completions increased 4% to 13,881 in the year to the end of December and that profit for 2016 would be at the upper end of market consensus.
Passenger transport operator National Express ticked lower after it reached an in-principle agreement for Trenitalia, the passenger rail transportation company part of FS Italiane Group, to acquire its 'c2c' commuter rail franchise.
Estate agency Foxtons tumbled as it revealed that profits for 2016 had almost halved as it endured subdued sales volumes in the capital through most of the year, which it warned could worsen in 2017.
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