Good morning. Retail sales data for February is being released in just under 10 mins and it is expected to show a rebound from an 8.2pc decline in January.
Meanwhile the FTSE 100 is set to open higher.
5 things to start your day
1) EU attacks call into question AstraZeneca vaccine pricing: Exclusive: Oxford’s Sir John Bell who helped develop the jab says morale at the drugmaker is being damaged by criticism of its safety and efficacy.
2) Rolls-Royce bulk-buys Liberty as Kwarteng vows support: Rolls-Royce is buying enough steel from Liberty to last until Christmas to guarantee supplies in case Gupta’s struggling empire collapses.
3) Zuckerberg blames Donald Trump for encouraging Capitol rioters: Appearing in a US hearing, Facebook’s chief executive suggested Donald Trump was partly responsible for the Washington DC insurrection.
4) Santander to close 111 branches this summer: The Spanish lender is the latest banking giant to slash the number of owned branches and offices after Covid left buildings largely deserted.
5) Ford pulls the plug on the Mondeo after 28 years: About 5m have been sold since its 1993 launch but production at the Valencia plant will end next year amid rising demand for SUVs.
What happened overnight
Asian stocks rose Friday, tracking US peers as vaccine distribution bolstered economic optimism despite a climb in global Covid-19 cases. Oil was on course for a third week of losses.
A regional share gauge added more than 1pc, led by Chinese and Japanese stocks. US and European equity futures pointed higher after the S&P 500 advanced and small-caps rallied, buoyed by President Joe Biden’s doubling of a vaccination target. U.S. banks extended gains in after-hours trading as the Federal Reserve signalled an end to pandemic-era dividend curbs.
Ten-year US Treasury yields rose slightly after another lackluster auction of seven-year notes. The reaction was muted compared with the upheaval in bonds and interest-rate sensitive stocks following poor demand at last month’s sale. The dollar dipped but remained on course for its best week in three.
Coming up today
Corporate: Smiths (Interim results)
Economics: Retail sales (UK); IfO business climate (Germany); business confidence (Italy); personal income and spending (US)