The FTSE 100 made modest gains early on Friday and was on course to end the week as a whole in positive territory, albeit achieving nothing like the vaccine-fuelled rise seen last week.
“Retail sales increased for the sixth consecutive month in October according to official data, with the release coming ahead of what will be a uniquely challenging festive period for the sector,” says AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.
“Shops face truncated trading thanks to Covid restrictions and the task of selling a much larger proportion of goods online.
“You need more than just a functioning website to handle internet-based orders; you also need warehouse space, which is at a premium, and the right systems and staff in place to ensure orders are processed accurately and efficiently.
“The latest dire figures on the UK’s public finances, even if they were slightly less dire than expected, will still ratchet up the pressure ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spending review next week.
“Sterling remains volatile amid ongoing uncertainty over the fate of any Brexit deal and this, along with resolution of the disputed election result in the US (with the hopeful coda of news on a stimulus package) and any fresh vaccine developments, are likely to be the factors which dominate the market’s attention into the New Year.
“Gold prices continue to hover below $1,900 per ounce, while oil prices remain above $40 per barrel for now. The next developments in the coronavirus crisis could help determine the future direction of both commodities.”