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China’s services purchasing managers index (PMI) has set the overall tone, as pace of recovery there is called into question owing to the index falling to 50.9 in December from 52.5 the previous month. The FTSE 100 has, as usual, seen greater adverse effects on the basis of this news, as the mining sector once again takes up the bottom four places on the UK benchmark.
Taking the top spot in the FTSE today is RSA Insurance. The company has shed some 28% over the past couple of months, as rumours that further write-downs may not be necessary has seen the share price jump 7%.
Italy and France are now the weak links in the eurozone chain, and even Germany has seen a softer output in December. Spain has powered ahead with services output, beating estimates by quite a distance at 54.2. This, hot on the heels of its fall in unemployment, bodes well for the peripheral country. Ireland has also been providing cheer; data emanating from the debt-laden state has been better-than-expected of late, after the services PMI in December rose at its fastest rate since February 2007 to 61.8 from 57.1 in November.
Here in the UK the PMI failed to meet expectations, yet the data would suggest that GDP for 2013 will be around 1.9%. The pound has seen some downside against the dollar as a result. The US PMI data is expected to show some improvement, from 53.9 to 54.6 in December, and this speculation is supporting the greenback.
The Dow Jones is currently expected to open up 9 points at 14,478.