(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London are seen opening higher on Friday, with the FTSE 100 within striking distance of the 7,000-point mark, following robust economic growth figures from China.
IG futures indicate the FTSE 100 index is set to open 14.90 points higher at 6,998.40. The blue-chip index closed up 43.92 points, or 0.6%, at 6,983.50 Thursday.
The Japanese Nikkei 225 index was up 0.1%. In China, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.6%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was up 0.2%. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney ended 0.1% lower.
China's economy expanded at its fastest pace on record in the first quarter of 2021, data showed, in a sharp turnaround from the historic contraction caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The 18% explosion in gross domestic product from a year ago was the fastest pace since quarterly records began three decades ago, accelerating sharply from a 6.5% growth in the fourth quarter.
The world's second largest economy was the only major one to grow at all in 2020, supported by strong retail spending and industrial activity as well as better-than-expected exports as the coronavirus hit markets around the world.
"Markets in Asia appear to be ending the week on a largely positive note with the main focus on this morning's Q1 China GDP numbers which showed the economy expanded by 18.3% year on year, and 0.6% on a quarterly basis. This looks set to translate into a positive European open, with all eyes on the FTSE 100 and whether it can crack above the 7,000 level," remarked CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.
In the US on Thursday, Wall Street ended higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.9%, S&P 500 up 1.1% and Nasdaq Composite up 1.3%.
The rally in New York came on the back of figures showing US jobless claims came in at their lowest level since the pandemic began, while retail sales soared 9.8% on-month in March as Americans began spending their USD1,400 stimulus handouts, helped by the rollout of vaccines.
The pound was quoted at USD1.3762 early Friday lower from USD1.3788 at the London equities close on Thursday.
The euro was priced at USD1.1966, flat from USD1.1965. Against the Japanese yen, the dollar was quoted at JPY108.80, up slightly from JPY108.71.
Brent oil was trading at USD67.08 a barrel Friday morning, up sharply from USD66.58 late Thursday. Gold was quoted at USD1,765.70 an ounce, down from USD1,766.35.
The economic events calendar on Friday has eurozone inflation figures at 1000 BST.
Friday's UK corporate calendar has a trading statement from emerging markets-focused asset manager Ashmore Group and private hospital operator Mediclinic International.
In the US, Morgan Stanley reports first-quarter results.
By Arvind Bhunjun; email@example.com
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