Markets Overview: (Source: Bloomberg, FT, Reuters, DJ Newswires)
FTSE 100 Index called to open -10pts at 7205, although off overnight lows of 7190 thanks to a bounce from intersecting support going back to 22 Feb. Bulls need a break above the 7210 highs of the last hour to extend the rebound. Bears need a breach of aforementioned 7190 support. Watch levels: Bullish 7210, Bearish 7190
Calls for a slightly negative open comes after Asian stocks delivered a similarly weak performance to that on Wall St last night, traders bracing for the last US inflation updates before the Fed and new Chair Powell likely deliver the first of several 2018 rates hikes next week. Note Miners down-under have given up some of yesterday’s gains, but oil is flat and metals off their worst levels.
Corporate news this morning: Antofagasta FY revenues +31% thanks to higher Copper prices, EBITDA +59% (highest margin since 2012), operating cash flow +71%, net debt lower, FY dividend +177% (67% payout); Copper production expected to grow quarter-by-quarter through the year, production, costs and CAPEX as previously guided to. Cairn Energy swings to 2017 net profit after first North Sea oil production.
John Menzies FY underlying operating profits +41% (34% at constant FX), EPS +20%, exceptional charges for M&A and pension de-risking, div +11%; 2018 started well, Aviation ahead on volumes & synergies; Distribution in-line, sale process going to plan. Legal & General acquires full ownership of CALA Homes. Daily Mail & Gen. Trust to dispose of US property info business EDR for $205m.
TP ICAP div unchanged; FY17 revs rise but underlying pre-tax profit flat, synergies accelerated; encouraging start to 2018 with a pick-up in vol and interest rates. Greencore cuts FY18 outlook for adj. EPS (two thirds weighted to H2) to reflect business developments (softer UK volumes after poor weather; weaker US) and current FX rates.
US equity markets endured a mixed opening to the week, with the Tech-heavy Nasdaq notching another fresh record close while both the Dow Jones and S&P 500 closed lower as fears of a global trade war continue to linger. The Dow underperformed as manufacturer Boeing lead the index 0.6% lower, while the industrial sector drove the S&P 0.1%.
Gold has retreated overnight from the $1326 ceiling of a rising channel overnight as the US dollar rallies from support. The precious metal, which becomes more comparatively more expensive as the US dollar rises, is heading back towards 2-week rising lows support around $1317, although will be at the mercy of US inflation later today and its reciprocal impact on the greenback.
Crude Oil benchmarks have recovered some of yesterday’s losses, rallying as much as 1.3% from yesterday afternoon’s lows following a 2.7% decline from Monday’s overnight highs, before consolidating overnight. Global benchmark Brent trades between $64.8-$65.1, while its US equivalent trades between $61.2-$61.4.
In focus today, with US Inflation still the talk of the town while the Fed looks to hike multiple times in 2018, will be Feb US Consumer Price Inflation (CPI; 12.30pm). Consensus is for slower Monthly growth after a Jan jump (0.2% vs 0.5% prev.), the Annual rate returning to late 2017 highs (2.2% vs 2.1% in Jan) but Core version unchanged (1.8%).
Much like slower Wages growth garnered lots of attention in Friday’s jobs report, however, Real Average Earnings (0.3% month-on-month vs -0.8% Jan) may steal the headlines, reviving recent concerns about rising inflationary pressure allowing the US Fed to maintain its hiking trajectory.
The major speech of the day will come from UK Chancellor Hammond as he delivers his first Spring statement (12.30pm) having revised the Budget schedule to be simpler, the main fiscal event now being delivered just once a year, in the Autumn.
Today’s brief address will likely see the first full analysis of Brexit’s impact on UK public finances, good news in terms of lower public borrowing and economic growth higher (but not necessarily an end to austerity), as well as announcement of a range of consultations on issues such as tax for small businesses, inheritance tax for individuals and a levy on ‘single use’ plastics.
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