Aggreko lifts FTSE

An upbeat outlook from services provider Aggreko has helped to give the FTSE 100 a lift into positive territory, helping to offset the decline in mining stocks owing to weaker-than-expected Chinese factory output. 

The manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) from the world’s second biggest economy fell to a three-month low, and has put pressure on the likes of basic materials company Antofagasta, which is off by 0.7% this morning.

Aggreko, with an upbeat assessment of the year-to-date along with recent reports that it is to power the Commonwealth Games in 2014, has attracted investor interest today. The shares have added 5.9% but have some way to go to regain the losses of the past nine months, which have seen the stock fall by some 20%.

If possession is nine-tenths of the law then scandal-hit Royal & Sun Alliance insurance group's habitual holding of the bottom spot on the UK benchmark does not bode well. The recent declines have invited yet another broker downgrade, with Cannacord Genuity also rating the stock as a sell, citing a target price of 85p for the stock. The chairman’s endeavours to preserve the A credit rating are now looking increasingly shaky, with the total loss in share price over the past six weeks a rather meaty 30%.

Both the manufacturing and services flash PMI data for France were something of a let-down this morning, failing to meet what were already fairly modest expectations. The manufacturing data showed the worst contraction in six months, serving to highlight the slowdown in what was once perceived to be a core country in the eurozone. This may well see the European Central Bank adapt more decisive action with respect to monetary policy in the coming quarter. German flash PMI by contrast saw its manufacturing sector expand for the eighth month, rising to 54.2 versus the 53.0 expected. 

While it’s as yet unclear what to expect from the Federal Open Market Committee tomorrow, today's US macro releases are anticipated to be an improvement on last month. A month-on-month increase of 0.6% is expected for industrial production, while manufacturing output is expected to ramp up to 54.9 from 54.7 last month. Anything better-than-expected could very well add to the ‘Dectaper’ market conjecture. 

The Dow Jones is currently slated to open up 7 points at 15762.

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