(Sharecast News) - London stocks were set to nudge just a touch higher at the open on Tuesday following losses in the previous session amid ongoing concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic and following the release of dire retail sales figures.
The FTSE 100 was called to open six points higher at 6,804.
Investors will be digesting industry research showing that UK retail sales slumped to a record low in 2020, after the high street saw little festive cheer in December.
According to the latest BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor, total sales increased 1.8% in December. That was an improvement on December 2019's 0.2% uptick, and above the 12-month average decline. But it was below the three-month average of growth of 2.5%.
On a like-for-like basis, sales rose 4.8% year-on-year.
The weak December contributed to a 0.3% decline in total sales in 2020, the lowest since records began in 1995. Food sales rose by 5.4%, but non-food was down 5.0%.
Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: "In the most important month of the year for the retail industry, there was some positive growth due to the ongoing shift of expenditure from other categories, such as travel and leisure.
"Household retailed and food item purchases were top of Christmas shopping lists, with historic growth rates in contrast to fashion accessories and beauty products, which experienced double-digit declines.
"Further restrictions and the closure of many non-essential shops resulted in a dismal December performance for those retailers on the high street, and conditions will be continue to be challenging as we enter another national lockdown."
In corporate news, B&Q owner Kingfisher said it expected current year profits to be at the top end of forecasts as fourth quarter like-for-like sales rose 16.9%, driven by people purchasing online.
Current sell-side analyst expectations for full year adjusted profit before tax is £667m to £742m, according to company-compiled consensus estimates at January 4.
(Adds quote, details)By Krishna N. Das and Mayank BhardwajNEW DELHI, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Sanitation worker Manish Kumar became the first person in India to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on Saturday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched one of ...