Expectations of poor retailing figures covering the Christmas period look set to push the FTSE lower today, with the index down a fraction at about 4,840 so far.
A survey from the British Retail Consortium suggests sales in shops open for at least a year dropped 0.4%, as five interest-rate increases and a cooler housing market cut consumer spending.
Morrisons, the supermarket chain, is down 6.75p to 208.75p after casting its own gloom on festive period trading. The company has warned shareholders to expect less sales growth this coming year.
Shares in Aviva and Legal & General are down after analysts advised investors to lessen their holdings in both insurers.
Legal & General is down 2p to 115.50p, while Aviva has slipped 10.50p to 632p.
Mining groups BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are both trading well, adding 11.50p to 602.50p and 30p to 1519p respectively.
In Japan, stocks have traded well after yesterday's lack of action because of a national holiday.
Car makers have paced the gains after Toyota reported an increase in European sales and Mitsubishi forecasted a return to profit in the US.
The Nikkei 225 Stock Average index added 0.9% to 11,539.99 at its close early this morning.Toyota was up 1.2% to 4,200 yen after adding 10% to European sales last year to a record 915,966 vehicles.
Mitsubishi marched 4.7% higher to 134 yen. The company's operations will regain profit within two years as it introduces new models, chief executive Rich Gilligan said.
Nissan climbed 1.6% to 1,153 yen.
In the US, the dollar shed the most in two weeks to $1.3123 against the euro after treasury secretary John Snow suggested the country would not strengthen its currency.
The dollar traded at 104.13 yen, down from 104.34.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average index added 17.07 points to 10,621.03 points at its close late last night.
3M was the best performer on the benchmark, adding $1.64 to $83.94, along with Boeing, up $0.67 to $50.98.
General Motors on the other end of the scale, lost $0.51 to $38.49.IFAonline
‘Important to have an anchor’
Report to be written by TPR
Lack of innovation for solutions
Some 2,000 consumers affected