(Alliance News) - Stocks in London are set to open down slightly on Tuesday, ahead of a slew of economic data.

A pre-election budget will be the key event in the UK this week. Eyes will be on whether UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will size up some tax relief. In the eurozone, focus will be on the European Central Bank's interest rate decision on Thursday. In the US, the latest jobs report on Friday will be the main event.

Tuesday's economic calendar has a slew of PMI data from the eurozone at 0900 GMT, before the UK at 0930 GMT and US at 1445 GMT.

In early corporate news, Spirent Communications said it has agreed on its acquisition by Viavi Solutions, valuing the company at GBP1 billion

Here is what you need to know at the London market open:




FTSE 100: called down 0.5% at 7,604.11


Hang Seng: down 2.7% at 16,148.09

Nikkei 225: closed down marginally at 40,097.63

S&P/ASX 200: closed down 0.2% at 7,724.20


DJIA: closed down 97.55 points, 0.3%, at 38,989.83

S&P 500: closed down 6.13 points, 0.1%, to 5,130.95

Nasdaq Composite: closed down 67.43 points, 0.4%, to 16,507.51


EUR: down at USD1.0847 (USD1.0858)

GBP: down at USDD1.2678 (USD1.2696)

USD: down at JPY150.49 (JPY150.51)

Gold: up at USD2,116.67 per ounce (USD2,116.16)

(Brent): down up at USD82.42 a barrel (USD83.37)

(changes since previous London equities close)




Tuesday's key economic events still to come:

09:30 EST Canada composite PMI

10:00 CET eurozone composite PMI

11:00 CET eurozone PPI

08:45 CET France industrial production

09:50 CET France composite PMI

09:00 GMT UK new car sales

09:30 GMT UK S&P Global composite PMI

08:55 EST US Redbook index

09:45 EST US S&P Global composite PMI

10:00 EST US ISM services PMI

10:00 EST US factory orders

10:00 EST US vehicle sales

12:00 EST US Fed Vice Chair Michael Barr speaks


The UK retail sector had a trickier month in February, as the wettest February on record kept shoppers away from the high street. According to the latest British Retail Consortium and KPMG sales monitor on Tuesday, UK total retail sales increased by 1.1% on-year last month, below the the 3-month average growth of 1.4% and the 12-month average of 3.1%. Sales growth eased from 5.2% last year. Food sales increased 6.0% on-year over the three months to February, against growth of 8.3% in February 2023. This is below the 12-month average growth of 7.9%. Non-food sales decreased 2.5% on-year over the three-months to February, against a growth of 3.2% in February 2023. This is steeper than the 12-month average decline of 0.9%.




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Intertek reported that revenue in 2023 rose 4.3% to GBP3.33 billion from GBP3.19 billion a year earlier. Pretax profit edged up 0.6% to GBP422.3 million from GBP419.8 million. On the back of the results, Intertek proposed a final dividend of 74.0p per share, up from 71.6p. This brings the full year dividend up 5.6% annually to 111.7p. Chief Executive Andre Lacroix said: "Based on our positive momentum, we expect the group will deliver a robust performance in 2024 with mid-single digit LFL revenue growth at constant currency, margin progression and a strong cash flow performance. We are on track to get back to our peak margin of 17.5% and beyond in the medium-term, capitalising on the revenue growth acceleration we are seeing for our ATIC solutions, our disciplined performance management and our investments in high growth and high margin segments."




Spirent Communications said it has agreed on its acquisition by Viavi Solutions for 175p per share in cash. Spirent shareholders will receive 172.5p cash, plus a 2.5p special dividend. The acquisition values the company at GBP1.01 billion. Spirent's board said it recommends the Viavi offer to shareholders. Also on Tuesday, Spirent reported its full year results for 2023. Spirent said revenue fell to USD474.3 million from USD607.5 million Pretax profit plummeted to USD22.9 million from USD114.6 million. Spirent declared no final dividend, despite paying out a final dividend of 4.94 US cents a year ago.


Greggs reported that sales in 2023 climbed to GBP1.81 billion from GBP1.51 billion a year earlier. Pretax profit increased to GBP188.3 million from GBP148.3 million. On the back of the results, Greggs paid out a dividend of 62p, up from 59p. It also paid out a special dividend of 40p. Looking ahead, Greggs left management expectations for 2024 unchanged. It added that the company has started 2024 "well", with like-for-like sales in company-managed shops up 8.2% in the first nine weeks of 2024. CEO Roisin Currie said: "Reflecting on another year of rapid growth, I am so proud of how our teams have risen to the challenge of serving more customers through more channels. Whether in our shops, our manufacturing sites, our distribution network, or in Greggs House, our teams stepped up to make sure that we kept pace with the increased customer demand as we delivered on our strategic growth plan."


Keller Group reported that revenue in 2023 rose to GBP2.97 billion from GBP2.94 billion a year earlier. Pretax profit surged to GBP125.6 million from GBP56.3 million. On the back of the results, Keller upped its dividend by 20% to 45.2p from 37.7p. "Whilst political and macro-economic uncertainties will undoubtedly remain and impact our markets in the short term, our current level of trading together with our robust order book mean that we enter the new year with confidence," CEO Michael Speakman said. "The strong momentum of the business is encouraging and whilst inevitably there will be fluctuations across the group, our diverse revenues and improved operational delivery underpin our expectation that 2024 will be another year of underlying progress."




CEVA Logistics said it will no increase its takeover offer for Wincanton, amid a takeover race. On Friday last week, Wincanton threw its weight behind the GBP762 million bid from GXO Logistics Inc, having previously accepted a rival offer. On Thursday, GXO announced an offer of 605 pence per share in cash for the Wiltshire, England-based company, and said two major shareholders supported its offer. The offer from Greenwich, Connecticut-based GXO trumped by more than a quarter a previously agreed takeover offer from CEVA Logistics UK Rose, a subsidiary of Marseilles, France-based shipping and logistics company CMA CGM. CEVA recently had increased its own offer for Wincanton to 480p per share from its original bid of 450p, which was made in January. In its statement on Friday, Wincanton said it was pleased that the public offer process, triggered by their recommendation of CEVA's offer is "maximising value and delivering a significant premium to Wincanton shareholders". As a result, Wincanton recommended "unanimously" the GXO offer and, withdrew its recommendation of the bid by CEVA.


By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

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