US debt ceiling division see defensives move

The continued division between Republicans and Democrats in reaching a conclusion to the US debt ceiling is hampering upside in equity markets, leading to a notable move to defensives, with staple and utility stocks capturing capital flow.

Water company Severn Trent has added 1.4% in early trade, while Associated British Foods has gained over 1% as investors shy away from riskier assets. Johnson Matthey has put in a stellar six months, adding over 30% in that time. The stock looks set to make a play on its all-time high, aided by an upgrade from JP Morgan who have assigned a new target price of 4000p .

In contrast, chemicals company Croda International has suffered yet another broker downgrade, this time from JP Morgan. Increasing competition in the Omega 3 healthcare ingredients business and overly-lofty expectations for third-quarter growth are capping any upside in the stock.

Columbus Day in the US means there is no macro data to give equity indices a concerted push in either direction, and one feels that markets will be at the mercy of official government comments today. We expect the Dow Jones to open 95 points lower at 15,142.

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