FTSE makes a lacklustre start

In mid-morning trading the FTSE 100 is down over 20 points, with the joint speeches of US secretary of state John Kerry and UK foreign office head William Hague partially to blame.

It is a sluggish start to the new week for the FTSE, as it bounces along just keeping its head above the 50-day moving average. With Japan winning the race to hold the 2020 Olympics, the Nikkei has given Asian markets a slightly distorted appearance, closing aggressively higher. UK chancellor George Osborne will be speaking today and updating the markets as to how the UK recovery is going. Of course, with this being as much a political as an economic speech, almost all of the content has already been leaked, leaving little to surprise the markets.

Associated British Foods has once again had its figures propped up by its Primark arm; the markets will no doubt be wondering how long the discount fashion chain can maintain this for. Lloyds Banking Group has plenty on its plate in the coming year, as disentangling the government's holding in the company prior to a general election remains on the horizon. But first, following the government's bailout of the firm, it will have to re-launch Trustee Savings Bank (TSB) as a pre-requirement of the European regulators.

US markets will find it hard to look too far without the topic of Syria arising. It is likely that before the week is out the US Congress will hold a debate to consider the level of support for President Obama's intentions to intervene in the Middle East. With just over a month before the US is due to hit its debt ceiling again, markets are awaiting the nation's plan of action, although it is not only the cynics who expect that this will once again go down to the wire. Ahead of the open, we expect the Dow to start 30 points higher at 14,952.

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