FTSE moves higher despite weak UK retail data and Delta fears

 Women wearing face masks carry several shopping bags while walking on the street.
On the first weekend of new coronavirus restrictions, the City of Coventry is in the Tier 3 - 'very high risk' with no pubs or restaurants are allowed to trade, except for takeaways, but all shops are open and shoppers out in force. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

The future of the high street is still uncertain post-COVID. Photo: Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/Sipa USA

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) ticked upwards in early trade in London despite a set of weak UK retail data and warnings about the future of the high street. 

Despite the release of pent-up demand after the lifting of coronavirus restrictions the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the pace of recovery on the high street was slowing and more town centre sites were falling vacant.

Its monthly retail sales monitor showed annual sales growth of 6.4% in July, well down on the three-month average of 14.7%.

The BRC has called for business rates reform in order to ensure the future of bricks-and-mortar retail.

In stock markets, investment management firm Man Group (EMG.L) headed 1% higher shortly after the opening bell as it announced a $100m (£72.16m) share buyback scheme. 

There was also a strong trading update from property developer Bellway (BWY.L) which said its housing revenue rose by 41% to over £3.1bn and was only 2.5% below the level achieved in financial year 2019. Shares ticked up 0.4% in early trade. Bellway made small gains of 0.1%. 

The FTSE 100 was up 0.1% in early trade. 

Over in Europe, the CAC (^FCHI) and the DAX (^GDAXI) both rose 0.2% at the open. 

US stock futures pointed to a muted stateside with small moves. S&P 500 (ES=F), Dow (YM=F) and Nasdaq (NQ=F) futures were almost flat. 

Analysts pointed to concerns surrounding the Delta variant of COVID-19 as the reason for caution. 

«The Dow and S&P 500 retraced from their record highs as bears took control of major indices,» said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at AvaTrade. 

«Having said that, rise in delta cases may be more of temporary issue as vaccination numbers continue to increase in the US and in other parts of the world.»

Yesterday, new Labor Department data showed US job vacancies had jumped by 590,000 to 10.1 million on the last day of the month.

That was up from a record 9.5 million openings in May and well above economists’ expectations.

Read more: Investors can now get exposure to hot UK fintech Revolut

Overnight in Asia, the Hang Seng (^HSI) gained 1.1%, the SSE Composite was up 0.8% and the Nikkei (^N225) rose 0.2%. 

The gains came even as key regions tightened coronavirus restrictions on Delta fears. 

Watch: Oil prices drop as Delta variant concerns rise