FTSE on the back foot

A weak finish last night in the US has put the FTSE 100 on the back foot, down 20 points from yesterday’s close.

We have dropped back from the eleven-week high yesterday, with a disappointing end to the US session primarily to blame. Yesterday the markets succeeded in powering higher, thanks to a fairly rosy interpretation of Mario Draghi’s comments in the European Central Bank press conference. However, the inability of the Dow Jones to hold above 16,600 is a worrying short-term sign for the bulls and may well signal another swift retest of 16,400.

Petrofac led the fallers today, diving 16% after it slashed its net profit forecast for the year ahead. All the gains made over the past three months have been eliminated, and with Johnston Press and Tullett Prebon issuing disappointing updates the atmosphere was firmly negative for investors as the week comes to a close. 

From the action last night on US markets, it is difficult to build a case for further gains from here. The attempt to hold above 16,600 failed, a clear sign that the market still lacks a catalyst to drive it higher. The search continues, but when dovish central bankers and a reasonably benign earnings season are insufficient, investors will be asking what is really going to drive this market higher. If the answer is ‘nothing’, then the outlook seems more than a little negative for stocks. 

Ahead of the open, we expect the Dow to start 20 points lower at 16,530.

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