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FTSE 100 to open little changed

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The FTSE 100 is set to mark time this morning, after a mixed showing on Wall Street overnight.

Spread betting quotes indicate the top-share index will start the day at around 6,892, up a couple of points from last night’s close.

Inflation data is set to be released today, and economists are tipping that the Consumer Price Index annual inflation rate will have risen above the one percentage point level in November, to 1.1% from October’s 0.9% reading.

That’s still not a rate that is going to have anyone who lived through the early eighties lying awake at night, but economists will be keeping an eye on the producer prices input rate, which is expected to show a year-on-year rise of around 12.2%; sooner or later that will start to feed through on the consumer side.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones 30-share index managed a rise yesterday, advancing 40 points to 19,796 but the broader-based S&P 500 fell back almost three points to 2,257.

Heading into the final hour of trading, Asian markets were similarly mixed, with the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo 56 points to the good at 19,212 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 75 at 22,355.

With the Christmas period round the corner, corporate news flow is starting to dry up in the UK.

Carpetright PLC (LON:CPR), the floor coverings retailer, is probably the most interesting company set to announce figures today.

The company was set up by legendary retailer Phil Harris, now Baron Harris of Peckham, and in recent years has been feeling the hot breath of competition from Tapi Carpets, a supposedly “more aspirational” carpets seller, set up by Harris’s son, Martin.

For the most part, investors know what to expect after the company gave a trading update at the end of October.

Like-for-like sales in the six months to 22 October were down almost 3% compared to the same period last year, while margins also declined as materials costs increased due to the weaker pound. Importantly for investors though, Carpetright was sure that its full-year profit expectations remained unchanged, so keep an eye out for this to be confirmed.

Peel Hunt reckons Carpetright might have done enough to nudge sales slightly above the broker’s expectations, although they’ll still be around 5.5% off compared to last year’s figure.

“We forecast first half profit before tax of £5.7mln (2015: £9mln), reflecting gross margin declines of 200 base points, as Carpetright takes a more aggressive stance to competitor openings,” the broker said.

Paul

The author Paul