UK retail sales fall sharply in December, US consumer confidence dips – as it happened

UK retail sales fell by 1.5% in December in the latest sign that consumers were feeling the strain of falling real pay over the crucial Christmas shopping period

Despite the stronger euro as the dollar weakens, European markets have ended the week on a positive note with the Stoxx index at its highest level for ten years. Growing hopes about company earnings and growth in the economy have combined to offset any negative concerns.

In the UK the FTSE 100 has also finished higher, despite a weak performance from retailers after disappointing high street sales figures for December. In the US, early optimism has receded, as investors await news on whether the government faces a shutdown. Worse than expected US consumer confidence figures have also hit sentiment. The final scores showed:

Here’s our latest on Carillion. Rob Davies writes:

The chair of the British Medical Association has demanded answers about the future of two major hospitals that Carillion was building when it collapsed, amid mounting concern about the impact of any delays on stretched NHS services.

Patients’ groups joined the doctors’ trade body in calling for clarity after local NHS trusts admitted that work on the £335m Royal Liverpool University and Birmingham’s £350m Midland Metropolitan hospitals is on hold.

Related: Carillion collapse expected to further delay building at two major hospitals

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