(Alliance News) - Stocks in London are set to open slightly lower on Tuesday, as investors react to US data, and look ahead to manufacturing sector readings from Europe later.

IG says futures indicate the FTSE 100 to open 7.0 points lower, or 0.1%, at 7,945.62 on Tuesday. The index of London large-caps closed up 20.64 points, 0.3%, at 7,952.62 on Thursday, before the long weekend.

UK shop price inflation ebbed to a more than three-year low in March, numbers showed.

According to the latest British Retail Consortium-NielsenIQ shop price index, annual shop price inflation eased to 1.3% in March, down from 2.5% in February. The reading was also short of the three-month average inflation rate of 2.2%.

Sterling was quoted at USD1.2545 early Tuesday, largely flat from USD1.2547 at the New York equities close on Monday, but down from USD1.2640 at the London close on Thursday. The euro traded at USD1.0731 early Tuesday, lower than USD1.0741 late Monday. It had bought USD1.0803 at the European equities close Thursday.

Growth in the US manufacturing sector continued in March but at a slower rate, final purchasing managers' index survey results from S&P Global confirmed on Monday, while the similar ISM survey showed a swing to growth from contraction.

The S&P Global US manufacturing PMI slipped to 51.9 points in March from 52.2 in February. This was below the flash result for March, released last month, which had shown an improvement to 52.5 points. The score for last month was still above the neutral 50-point mark, and the expansion in production reached a 22-month-high.

The Institute for Supply Management PMI, also released on Monday, showed a more striking improvement last month, indicating a swing to expansion from contraction.

The ISM PMI for manufacturing reading was 50.3 points for March, compared to 47.8 for February and 49.1 for January. A less impressive rise to 48.4 points was expected for last month.

But markets fixated on a 3.3% rise in ISM's prices index as compared with February.

In the US on Monday, Wall Street ended largely lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.6%, the S&P 500 down 0.2% but the Nasdaq Composite up 0.1%

In Asia on Tuesday, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo was slightly lower. In China, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.2%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was up 2.2%. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed down 0.1%.

Monthly factory activity in China grew for the first time in half a year, official figures showed, in a positive sign for policymakers seeking to revive the world's second-largest economy.

The PMI came in at 50.8 points in March, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, up from 49.1 in February.

The last expansion in China's monthly PMI was in September, with factory activity consistently negative since then, according to NBS data.

Against the yen, the dollar was quoted at JPY151.71 on Tuesday morning London time, slightly higher versus JPY151.66 at the New York equities close Monday, and up from JPY151.29 at the time of the London equities close Thursday.

The downturn in Japan's manufacturing sector slowed in March, according to survey data. The au Jibun Bank PMI rose to 48.2 points in March from 47.2 in February, confirming a prior flash estimate.

The softer downturn was reported in both output and new orders. Japanese factories pointed to ongoing weak customer demand on the domestic front and overseas, leading to production cuts.

Brent oil was quoted at USD87.82 a barrel early Tuesday, up from USD87.56 late Monday. Gold was quoted at USD2,253.26 an ounce early Tuesday, higher against USD2,241.40.

Tuesday's global economic calendar sees a slew of manufacturing PMI, including the eurozone at 0900 GMT and the UK at 0930 GMT, before the US job openings and labour turnover survey at 1500 GMT.

By Greg Rosenvinge, Alliance News senior reporter

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