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UK markets 'cautious' as Trump sworn in as president

UK markets tread cautiously as investors paused for the inauguration of US president Donald Trump.

Sterling was flat against the US dollar at around 1.233, and 0.2% lower versus the euro at 1.155.

London's top tier struggled to make gains, with the FTSE 100 dropping 0.14% or 10 points to close at 7,198.44 points.

All eyes were on Washington as Mr Trump prepared for his presidential term.

Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, said investors would be watching US markets which "weren't too pleased" with Mr Trump's first press conference last week.

"It was bereft of any substantial policy detail and continued the childish tone that has come to define his Twitter handle, Mr Campbell added.

"A similar showing in the inaugural speech ... could leave investors displeased once again."

US stocks were trading higher in early trading, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.3%, S&P 500 up 0.45%, and the NASDAQ Composite up 0.4%.

Investors were also digesting worse-than-expected UK retail sales data, which showed monthly volumes dropped at their fastest rate in nearly five years in December, falling 1.9% as shoppers spent less on clothing footwear and household goods in the run-up to Christmas.

Across Europe, the French Cac 40 and German Dax rose by 0.2% and 0.29%, respectively.

In oil markets, Brent crude prices rose 2.9% to 55.75 US dollars per barrel (£45.20) on hopes that a weekend meeting between Opec members and other major producers would produce some proof that supply cuts were going ahead as planned.

In UK stocks, BT shares rose 9.1p to 387.15p as the company gave details on upcoming price hikes for services like BT Sport and broadband. It precedes the telecoms giant's third quarter trading update set to be released next Friday.

HSBC fell 0.9p to 678.4p after the bank agreed to stump up £4 million to pay back customers subjected to "unreasonable" debt collection practices following a UK regulatory probe.

MySale Group rose 0.75p to 126.25p after the online fashion firm - backed by Sir Philip Green and Mike Ashley - said online revenue rose 18% to 126.5 million Australian dollars in the first half, while operating profit doubled to hit three million Australian dollars.

Shares in Bonmarche Holdings rose 3.5p to 82.5p as like-for-like store sales at the womenswear retailer edged up 0.8% in the 13 weeks to December 24, after the retailer opted for fewer discounts over the festive trading period.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Smurfit Kappa Group up 92p at 2,181p, BT Group up 9.1p at 387.15p, Capita up 12p to 513.5p, and CRH up 44p to 2,836p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were AstraZeneca down 150p at 4,318.5p, Associated British Foods down 63p at 2,522p, Barratt Developments down 10.9p at 494.6p, and Tesco down 4.3p to 198.3p.

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