Wednesday morning snapshot

A snapshot of the early morning's equity news and key market movements.

Last night in the US: The Dow Jones closed down 32 points at 15,451, the NASDAQ finished down nine points at 3598 and the S&P 500 closed down six points at 1676.

This morning in London: The FTSE 100 is currently up 24 points at 6580.

FX and commodities: GBP/USD is down 70 pips at $1.5091, EUR/USD is down 35 pips at $1.3128 and USD/JPY is up 67 pips at ¥99.75. Oil - Brent Crude is down 51 cents at $107.64 and gold is trading at $1286, down $5.

Stocks: BHP Billiton has announced a 238% increase in first-half operating profit, compared with the previous six months. Smiths Group stated that its full-year operating profit is likely to be £15 million.

The day ahead: The UK unemployment rate and claimant count are out at 9.30am. In the US, housing starts and building permits are due at 1.30pm. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke testifies to the Senate at 3pm. The Beige Book is released at 7pm (all London times).

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