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London pre-open: Subdued start expected as markets turn cautious ahead of Fed

UK stocks are expected to open slightly lower on Friday morning as markets continue to pause ahead of the Federal Reserve policy meeting next week.

City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open down six points from yesterday’s close of 5,586.08. The index has risen to its highest levels in a month but has only gained 0.9% over the recent three-day rally as traders sit on their hands as they await a busy week next week.

US and Asian stocks both posted small losses overnight as a cautious mood swept global markets.

Mixed recent economic data from the States has sparked hopes that the Fed will delay scaling back stimulus until later in the year. However, last week’s decline in US jobless claims to their lowest level since April 2006 (revealed yesterday) – although hard to analyse given that the data was affected by one-off factors – seems to have now dampened these hopes somewhat.

‘Investors have paused for thought in the wake of the markets incredibly strong run with Asian shares falling back slightly overnight, snapping an 11-day rally indicating that some feel that now is an appropriate time for some profit taking,’ said Max Cohen, a Financial Sales Trader at Spreadex.

‘With the Federal Reserve meeting next week to discuss potential reductions to monthly bond purchases, and with developments in Syria moving along at a snail’s pace, it is understandable that investors are tempted to hold fire for the next week or so.’

Stocks to watch

Annual profits at pub group JD Wetherspoon came in slightly ahead of forecasts as the company reported record numbers across the board, though the dividend was kept the same as last year. Meanwhile, the new fiscal year has got off to a strong start with like-for-like sales in the six weeks to September 8th up 3.6%. Panmure Gordon had said last week that it was pencilling in growth of only 2% given the tough comparatives with last year. Wetherspoon reported a profit before tax and exceptional items of £76.9m for the 52 weeks to July 28th, up 6.3% from £72.4m the year before and marginally above the consensus estimate of £76.2m.

Glencore Xstrata announced a revised scope for its Zanaga iron ore project with a changed budget and efforts to finance work. The company said the project feasibility study is now being advanced on the basis of a staged development, substantially reducing the initial capital requirement and including the potential for initial production using existing infrastructure.

Vodafone has won enough shareholder support for its EUR7.7bn takeover of German cable company Kabel Deutschland (KDH) to go ahead. The British mobile network giant has received the backing of more than 75% of Kabel shareholders. It said: ‘The 75% minimum acceptance condition has been met.’

BC

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