Across the water, the Dow Jones surged 190 points - an end to five days of straight losses - to 17,511.5 helped by oil prices cresting $50 per barrel. The big question for markets this week is QE - will ECB pull the trigger?
New Greene King numbers are first up this morning. Retail like-for-like sales were up 2.0% over Christmas & the New Year - Christmas Day sales hit a record -and 0.6% year-to-date says the pubs player.
Retail like-for-like sales were in line with last year in the last six weeks despite tough comparatives claims Greene King. Pub Partners like-for-like net income climbed 2.8%; Brewing & Brands own-brewed volume (OBV) growth surged 5.2%.
"Sales were encouraging," says boss Rooney Anand, "in our retail business over the important two weeks covering Christmas and the New Year, despite a very tough comparative from last year and softer trading in Scotland."
Like-for-like sales on retail sales increased 5.0% and consumer direct sales were up 13%. However Thorntons shares plunged more than a third just before Christmas following a profits warning.
Orders from major retailers were partly to blame, plus warehouse glitches. Its stock slipped to 77p following the pre-Xmas profits worry; currently its share price is 79p. Thorntons shares, in contrast, were worth more than 165p last spring.
Lastly, construction operator Kier says it has been awarded more than £145m of new construction contract awards in the Middle East since the start of the calendar year.
Kier has been named preferred bidder for a £100m mixed-use development in Dubai and two infrastructure contracts totalling £15m on a major new leisure park project.
"These awards further emphasise our continuing strong order book," said boss Haydn Mursell. Kier was recently named as a preferred bidder for the £1bn Thames Water infrastructure alliance, along with Clancy Docwra.
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