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UK EQUITY MARKET INSIGHTS FROM AMP

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On Friday the FT-SE 100 index closed at 3,065.0, gaining a net 32.7 on the session. On the week as a whole the FT-...
On Friday the FT-SE 100 index closed at 3,065.0, gaining a net 32.7 on the session. On the week as a whole the FT-SE 100 index barley changed reflecting trading volumes only slowly recovering to normal levels in the wake of the festive period.

The FT-SE Mid 250 index closed only 6.3 points ahead at 3,479.6.

The mild equity market response to strong US employment and business activity data last week suggests that a US interest rate rise at the next Federal Open Market Committee meeting at the end of January has been built into share prices already. As a result the market should take any announcements by the Fed in its stride.

However, it does seem that London is behaving in the same manner at the beginning of 1995 as it had done for much of 1994; taking its lead from abroad, keeping a close eye on the timing of the next US monetary tightening, and on the release of significant US economic data.

A number of company results and trading statements due this week are expected to provide evidence of a solid Christmas for the retail sector.

Next and Boots both reported good figures last week, which, coupled with figures from other sources such as the department stores group John Lewis Partnership, suggest a late surge in sales following a sluggish Autumn.

Dixons, the UK's biggest electrical retailer, reports interim results tomorrow, and pre-tax profits are expected to be £25-£26m for 1994, up from £17.3m in 1993.

Sears' the retail group, (including Selfridges, Freemans, Dolcis and Wallis), makes a trading statement on Thursday. Selfridges is thought to have had a good Christmas but the high street chains have suffered from the mild weather.

Argos and Storehouse, (Mothercare, BHS and Blazer) report on Friday, and the Body Shop is expected to report healthy Christmas sales this week.

Also due this Thursday are full year pre-tax profits for the UK's sixth largest bank, the TSB group.

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