The FTSE opened 0.04% up this morning at 5,565 as retailers came out with mixed messages on consumer sentiment.
Debenhams announced it expects its annual profits to jump 20% following a focus on margins rather than sales volumes. The retailer's stock was up 2.85% today to 66.85p.
However, the rising price of cotton owing to the Pakistan floods, plus the VAT increase, could cause problems for budget retailers, according to Primark.
In a trading statement released yesterday the firm said its like for like sales over the financial year to September are expected to grow by 6%, compared to the 8% growth seen in the first half of the year.
Emerging market investment firm Ashmore Group is the largest gainer on the FTSE so far, up 4.11% following strong inflows. Aerospace group Cobham is the second strongest performer, up 2.7%.
Among the losers are bookmakers Ladbrokes, falling 2.03%, and William Hill, down 1.2%, while miners Centamin Egypt and Talvivaara Mining Company are down 1.95% and 1.3% respectively.
Collapsed social housing group Connaught saw its job losses rise to 1,400 as the company as its administrators ruled out finding buyers for five outstanding maintenance contracts.
US markets closed higher after Monday's trading, with the S&P 500 reaching its highest level in over a month, closing up 1.1% or 12.35 points at 1,121.9. Banks led the gainers in both the US and Asia, as the Basel III regulations finalised over the weekend turned out to be less onerous than expected.
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