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Market overview: Retail sales trounce forecasts

0930: UK retail sales grew at a 2.6 per cent month-on-month pace in December, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The consensus expectation was for an increase of 0.4 per cent.

0928: Rise in shares of Admiral is being attributed to a positive report on the insurance sector in today’s FT.

0845: UK stocks have started the day slightly higher despite the mixed close to trading seen overnight on Wall Street. Petrochemicals giant Shell is weighing most on the Footsie after unveiling fourth quarter earnings of just 2.9bn dollars, instead of the approximately 4bn dollars expected by analysts. William Hill is also moving lower after a trading update. Joining them today at the bottom of the pile is RBS. Analysts at Investec have downgraded their recommendation for the largely publicly-owned lender to ‘sell.’ Petrofac is the beneficiary this morning of an upgrade from Nomura to ‘buy’ from ‘neutral’. Shares of US chip giant Intel dropped by almost five per cent in ‘after-hours’ trading following its latest quarterly results. FTSE 100 up 3 to 6,819.

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