No clear direction for FTSE

In mid-morning trading the FTSE 100 is nudging higher, now up 10 points, although a clear direction is yet to emerge.

After an initial baby bounce, the market has slumped back again, as the summer heat continues to drain the energy from commuters and investors alike. Nonetheless, although upward progress has been relatively lacking so far this week the trend direction remains firmly upwards. The focus for markets remains on earnings, investors having been reassured by recent developments that the Federal Reserve isn’t about to slam the brakes on QE3 and spoil the party for everyone. With the eurozone mercifully quiet for now, the main driver remains corporate earnings.

London-listed miners are stretching their legs this morning after some suitably sunny comments from the Chinese premier. Beijing aims to keep growth above 7%; commendable as this is, saying something doesn’t make it true, even if the latest economic data indicated that consumer spending in China was helping to pick up the slack. Still, gains in excess of 1% are common across the sector, with gold miners especially lifted thanks to the recent surge in the price of the barbarous relic. Tullow Oil, however, is struggling after a failure in drilling operations off the South American coast. It might have been an ‘ambitious wildcat’ well, but such entertaining diversions do not look quite so entertaining when reported in the form of a stock market announcement.

US data continues to reside in that pleasant area of just weak enough to ease tapering fears, but not so weak that markets actually become exercised about the health of the American economy. Hopes of a push to 1700 for the S&P 500 yesterday were disappointed, but barring some radical new development it doesn’t seem as if it will take long to break this particular number. Ahead of the open, we expect the [indices:WALL-Dow Jones] to start 25 points higher at 15,570.

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