FTSE at two-and-a-half month high

In mid-morning trading the FTSE 100 is up five points as traders await the US non-farm payrolls report.

Non-farms Tuesday doesn't have the same ring as non-farms Friday, but either way traders are focused on the announcement, with the consensus for an increase of 180,000 new jobs and for the unemployment rate to remain at 7.3%.

Solid earnings and a waning of tapering fears have pushed the FTSE 100 to a two-and-a-half month high. The partial shutdown in the US has highlighted how brittle the US political system is, but on the other hand the QE tap will now be kept running until well into the new year.

Royal Bank of Scotland is a touch higher today, having lost 5% yesterday when George Osborne suggested the bailed-out bank could be broken up into a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bank. BHP Billiton is in demand this morning after the mineral extractor revealed an 11% increase in quarterly production. The parent company of Costa Coffee, Whitbread, posted a 12% increase in first-half profit, beating analysts' estimates.

We are currently expecting the Dow Jones to open five points lower at 15,387, as traders sit on their hands ahead of the all-important jobs data at 1.30pm (London time).

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