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FTSE 100 seen flat ahead of UK jobless update, Bank of England minutes

The FTSE 100 is seen opening flat after tacking on 0.3% yesterday despite a strong showing in the US, where the main indices posted good gains following the Martin Luther King Day break.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.1%, while the broader S&P 500 index advanced 1.25% and the technology heavy NASDAQ composite rallied 1.4%.

Asian markets showed weakness on Wednesday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index and china’s Shanghai composite index tumbled 2% and Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 was down 0.3%. However, South Korea’s KOSPI and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index added 0.3%.

The blue chips in London were led by fashion house Burberry (LSE: BRBY), which rallied 8% after its quarterly sales beat forecasts to outgain Cadbury (LSE: CBRY) after the chocolatier accepted a sweetened offer from Kraft Foods (LSE: KFT), helping itself to a 3.5% advance.

Other notable risers included utilities Severn Trent (LSE: SVT) and United Utilities (LSE: UU) with gains of 3% and 2.5%, packaging group Rexam (LSE: REX) with a 3.5% improvement, airline British Airways (LSE: BAY) with a 3% climb and pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) and AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN), which tacked on nearly 2%, as did food manufacturer Unilever (LSE: ULVR).

Part-nationalised bank Lloyds (LSE: LLOY), beverage group SABMiller (LSE: SAB) and publisher Pearson (LSE: PSON) were at the bottom of the pile with losses of 2.6%, 2.3% and 2% respectively. Plumbing and heating equipment manufacturer Wolseley (LSE: WOS) and bank Barclays (LSE: BARC) lost nearly 2%.


Oil prices were in decline today as March Brent Crude retreated to US$77/barrel, while US light, sweet crude was down to US$78.67/barrel.

Precious metals followed with gold sliding to US$1,130/oz, while silver and platinum were down to US$18.59/oz and US$1,637/oz respectively.

Base metals also were in retreat with copper and nickel sliding to US$3.39/lb and US$8.61/lb, while zinc was down to US$1.12/lb.

The corporate reporting season is set to continue in the US today with Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFS), Starbucks (NYSE: SBUX) and Ebay (NASDAQ: EBAY) set to release their quarterly results today.

US housing starts update for December will also come out today, along with jobless data in the UK and the minutes of the Bank of England’s latest policy meeting.

Disclosure: The author holds no positions in the company