THE retail festive sales reports are in full swing but today sees not just an ordinary update – this is a Marks and Spencer update. Expectations are for good food sales and based on a strong performance from fellow high street staple Next last week, the clothing side is expected to be none too shabby either. But as usual it will be the tone of the outlook that potentially has the bigger bearing on sentiment and this week has already seen a little caution creeping into the share price. IG Markets CFD price is 308.3p-308.7p.

Alcoa reported earnings after the bell yesterday to kick off the earnings season, with its shares having fallen 50 per cent from their highs in 2011. After breaking through a trendline drawn from the April highs and the 30-day moving average, the shares were trying to recover from the dip to as low as $8.50 at the end of 2011. Good results may well see the shares break above $9.50-$10.00, disappointing results may offer another buying opportunity around $8.50. Spread Co offers a spread on Alcoa of $9.35-$9.38.

It’s all about retailers this week as supermarkets and many high street bellwethers report their numbers and investors will want to see how the Christmas trading period was for them. One such retailer that has struggled is Mothercare whose share price slumped some 60 per cent in 2011. Will 2012 prove a turning point for it or more of the same troubles as consumers keep their money in their pocket? Capital CFDs quotes 156.0-157.2 for Mothercare.

Oil majors continue to garner traders’ interest as the price of crude tests upside resistance. There are elevated geopolitical tensions on worsening relations between Iran and the West, following the EU’s decision to implement a ban on Iranian crude imports. Countering this are the ongoing concerns over the global economy as many European countries struggle with austerity measures, and on continued uncertainty over the outlook for China. While European refiners struggle, producers such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil continue to power ahead. GFT quote for Royal Dutch Shell “B” shares is 2,483-2,484p