FTSE crawls higher ahead of QE decision

Will they won’t they? It’s all about the European Central Bank today, as the escalating quantitative easing question will finally be answered. Anticipation of the announcement has nudged the FTSE 17 points higher.

ECB flag
Source: Bloomberg

Yesterday the markets were rife with rumours that the ECB was set to announce a €50 billion monthly QE policy today. The accuracy of these rumours will only become transparent at 1.30pm today when we hear from Mario Draghi, with tantalising hints likely at 12.45pm when the decision is announced. 

Equity markets, however, have been much less equivocal as they once again set higher highs around Europe. The rally that has been seen over the last couple of weeks does leave a sense of nervousness as the chance of a ‘buy the rumour, sell the news’ situation could well be on the cards. 

Balfour Beatty appear reluctant to let optimism last for too long as only days after announcing a £1.5 billion public sector contract it has reduced its full-year target by £70 million, getting its first profits warning of 2015 in early.

Royal Mail has announced improving parcel sales and falling letter revenues, a template that looks set to be in place for years to come. As the shares are up by over 3.5% in the first couple of hours trading, this would appear to be something traders are only too happy with.

Countrywide has seen house exchanges drop by 2% and 14% in the prime London regions, while residential lettings were up by 20%.

Plans to bring forward laws regarding the packaging of cigarette boxes have also given Imperial Tobacco's shares a whack.

After-hours trading in eBay saw shares jump, as a combination of the company’s separation with PayPal being ahead of schedule and job cuts saw traders’ optimism increase.

Verizon, E*TRADE, Starbucks and Southwest Airlines will all be posting figures today, keeping the momentum of the reporting season going even with the economic distractions from Europe in the background.

This afternoon will also see the latest US unemployment claims and crude oil inventories as both US light and crude oil have sold off in the European session.

Ahead of the open we expect the Dow Jones to start 45 points higher at 17,599.

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