Strong data fails to propel markets higher

The FTSE 100 is struggling to gain a consensus as to which direction to head and is broadly flat after the first couple of hours of trading.

Traders will be focused on the macro data being announced today, even though the FTSE 100 is going through one of its periodic reshuffles. German politics are not normally the major topic on trading floors across London but following Angela Merkel’s impressive victory – the best since Helmut Kohl’s in 1990 – the short-term stability of the German economy looks assured.

The second month of manufacturing growth for China will boost optimism that the Asian economy can once again be dragged into a more aggressive upturn by the region's powerhouse, China. Europe, in the form of France, Germany and the EU, have not quite been able to follow this trend, as service figures jumped but manufacturing numbers slightly disappointed, despite edging higher.

Even with the macro picture dominating the mindset of many, it is still worth noting that Serco Group, Eurasian Natural Resources and John Wood Group have all been relegated out of the FTSE 100. Taking their places at the top table are Coca-Cola HBCMondi and Sports Direct. A glance at the share price action of Sports Direct over the last couple of years will underline the fact that founder and chairman Mike Ashley appears to keep all his controversial decisions to the running of Newcastle United. The first couple of years after floating were a little disappointing, but since the lows in January 2009 it has predominantly been one-way traffic.

AG Barr has also posted solid first-half figures; the manufacturers of Scotland’s second-finest tipple Irn Bru will be especially pleased following the collapse of the merger with Britvic earlier in the year.

Last week’s decision to hold off on tapering looks to be still hanging over markets, and with improving economic data one of the keys to the Federal Reserve moving to the next level, today's US manufacturing PMI will no doubt be closely scrutinised. These figures, along with the plethora of US economic data due this week, could well give the market a better sense of direction and timing. Ahead of the open, we expect the Dow Jones to start 40 points higher at 15,491.

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