The FTSE 100 is projected to open 35 points, or roughly 0.7% after gaining 0.3% yesterday despite weakness in the mining sector in response to a decline in metal prices, while crude prices also slid to push down oil and gas stocks.
The preliminary reading of Q4 UK GDP marked the end of the worst recession in over 60 years yesterday, revealing a 0.2% increase, which, however, was lower than the expected improvement of 0.4%. The focus will shift over to the US today, where the Federal Reserve’s meeting is set to conclude with an announcement on interest rates.
Bank Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN) was atop the leaderboard yesterday, advancing 2.5%, while property companies also did well as Segro (LSE: SGRO) and British Land (LSE: BLND) tacked on more than 2%. Imperial Tobacco Group (LSE: IMT) rose 2%, while telecom group Cable & Wireless (LSE: CW), retailer Marks and Spencer (LSE: MKS), InterContinental Hotels Group (LSE: IHG), power generation company International Power (LSE: IPR) and pharmaceutical company Shire (LSE: SHP) all gained more than 1.5%.
Interdealer broker ICAP (LSE: IAP) and Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW) were the heaviest fallers in the index with losses of over 3.5%. Miners Fresnillo (LSE: FRES) and Kazakhmys (LSE: KAZ) declined 2.3%, as did Lloyds (LSE: LLOY), while fellow part nationalized bank RBS (LSE: RBS) was down 1.6%.
The US stock market finished flat yesterday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average seeing its early and midday gains erased late in the session despite a larger than expected increase in the Consumer Confidence Index, which improved from 53.6 to 55.9 in January. The broader S&P 500 index dropped 0.4%, whole the technology heavy NASDAQ composite was down 0.3%.
DuPont (NYSE: DD), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) were among the companies to report their quarterly results yesterday, reporting better than expected profits. Among the companies that are scheduled to report today are Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) and Boeing (NYSE: BA).
Asian markets also were in decline with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shedding 0.5%, while China’s Shanghai composite index slipped 1.1%, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index slid 0.3%, South Korea’s KOSPI was down 1% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 tumbled 1.6%.
Oil prices remained at about the same level as yesterday ahead of today’s report on US oil inventories from the Department of Energy (DoE). March Brent Crude was at US$73.05/barrel, while US light, sweet crude held steady at US$74.53/barrel.
Precious metals retreated after making slight improvement yesterday with gold sliding to US$1,094/oz, while silver and platinum inched lower to US$16.74/oz and US$1,513/oz respectively.
Base metals headed in different directions as while copper rose to US$3.32/lb, nickel and zinc declined to US$8.13/lb and US$1.03/lb respectively.
Disclosure: The author holds no positions in the company