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FTSE 100 Trades Higher, But Still Lower This Week As Investor Caution Dominates

Encouraging retail sales data from the UK has helped the FTSE 100 to continue to march towards the north, albeit slowly and laboriously. Data from the UK Office for National Statistics show that retail sales volumes for October 2020 climbed 1.2%, which was better than the expected contraction of 0.3% that was predicted by sampled economists. However, this increase was a tad lower than the previous value of 1.4%; an upward revision from the earlier reported figure of 1.5%. 

The retail sales data was an encouraging sign for UK retailers and investors on the FTSE 100 index ahead of the holiday shopping season, which commences in a week with Black Friday sales.

The boost in retail sales was driven by online retail outlets (6.4%), while household goods shops and departmental stores showed growth in sales volumes of 3.2% and 3.1% respectively. The distribution of growth has started to cast doubts on the ability of in-store retailers to overcome the headwinds posed by the lockdowns to deliver sales projections. This is perhaps why the FTSE 100 is seeing cautious bullishness in Friday’s trading. 

Yesterday’s AstraZeneca announcement did very little (if anything at all) to boost investor sentiment. Optimism around coronavirus vaccines has waned. Furthermore, the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine candidate is nowhere near as ready for deployment as are the competing products from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech. 

Investors on the FTSE 100 are also looking towards the Brexit trade negotiations for further direction. That front has remained relatively silent. 

The FTSE 100 is trading slightly higher this Friday, delivering a 0.39% gain as at the time of writing. The biggest gainers on the day are BAE Systems (3.51%), Smiths Group (2.48%), Rolls Royce (2.37%), Glencore (2.18%) and AstraZeneca (2.08%). 

Surprisingly, online retailer Tesco is down by 1.69%, as are Johnson Matthey, BT Group and Imperial Brands, which are trading lower by 2.95%, 2.77% and 1.53% respectively.

Technical Outlook for FTSE 100

This week’s price action is gradually being condensed into a symmetrical triangle. If the previous price action from early November is considered, we can look at the pattern as a bullish pennant. The technical expectation is for the price to break the pennant pattern to the upside. Such a move could put 6405.4 as well as 6514.8 at risk. 6739.0 represents the projected target for the measured move that corresponds to the pole of the bullish pennant. 

However, if price fails to break to the upside and the sellers can force a breakdown of the 6325.3 support, we could see a clear path towards the psychological support level at 6200.0, with 6067.6 and 5951.6 lining up as additional targets to the south. This price pathway would invalidate the conventional bullish resolution expected for the bullish pennant. 

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FTSE 100 Daily Chart

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