Overview: the FTSE 100 is seen slightly lower today following yesterday’s weak session on Wall Street, where the top indexes headed in different directions as investors were digesting mixed economic updates.
The US Commerce Department said that factory orders rose by 1.1% in November against the expected improvement of 0.5%, however, housing data turned out to be weak as the National Association of Retailers reported a 16% decline in its index of pending home sales.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.1%, while the broader S&P 500 index recovered closer to the end of trading to finish with a 0.3% gain, while the technology heavy NASDAQ composite was flat.
The UK blue chip index climbed 0.4% yesterday to extend Monday’s gains after the ISM manufacturing index rose by more than expected in the US.
Part-nationalised bank RBS (LSE: RBS) took the lead among the blue chips for the second day in a row, surging 10%. Another banking stock Barclays (LSE: BARC) and investment management firm Man Group (LSE: EMG) also made it to the top three with gains of 6% and 4% respectively. Other notable risers included airline British Airways (LSE: BAY), which rose 3.5%, another bailed out bank Lloyds (LSE: LLOY), which tacked on more than 3% and precious metal miner Fresnillo (LSE: FRES) with a 3% climb.
Software developer Autonomy Corporation (LSE: AU) was the heaviest faller in the index with a 4% loss.
Chocolatier Cadbury (LSE: CBRY) followed, slipping 3.2% after Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRKA), which is a large shareholder in Kraft (NYSE: KFT), said no to the food giant’s planned share issue to facilitate the acquisition of Cadbury. Other notable fallers included pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) and food manufacturer Unilever (LSE: ULVR) with losses of over 2% and medical devices manufacturer Smith & Nephew (LSE: SN), which slipped 3%.
Asian markets mostly rose. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 0.2%, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index gained 0.4%, South Korea’s KOSPI rose 0.7%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 500 index was flat and China’s Shanghai composite index declined 0.9%.
Oil prices were slightly lower following yesterday’s climb as February Brent Crude retreated to US$80.45/barrel and US light, sweet crude declined to US$81.59/barrel.
Precious metals also stood slightly below Tuesday’s levels. Gold was at US$1,120/oz, while silver and platinum held steady at US$17.83/oz and US$1,529/oz respectively.
Base metals inched higher with copper and nickel reaching US$3.43/lb and US$8.49/lb, while zinc improved to US$1.16/lb.
Among the economic data due to be released today are the CIPS Services PMI index in the UK and an ADP National Employment update for December, which is due out in the US later in the day.
Disclosure: I do not hold a position