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After the events from earlier in the week Friday does feel like a little bit of an anti-climax. This morning’s European inflation figures are unlikely to tell us anything that markets haven’t been factoring in for some time. Arguably the biggest stumbling block to Greece receiving funding for the next four months will be today’s vote in the German parliament, but considering almost all of the compromises have been made by the Greeks this looks likely to be approved.
Lloyds Banking Group’s confirmation of full-year profits of £1.8 billion has enabled the company to once again resume paying dividends to its shareholders. The UK taxpayer continues to trim their position in the company, now down to 23.9%, following last week’s sale of £500 million worth of shares, helping to improve the attractiveness of the bank to institutional investors.
International Consolidated Airlines has upgraded its profits forecast for the year by 20% as it posted 2014 full-year profits up by 81%, helped by falling costs and ineptitude from European competitors. The Irish government’s reluctance to sign off on the group’s takeover of Aer Lingus looks to be just one of the issues that will need to be resolved in order for Willie Walsh to get his hands back on his old stomping ground.
Although the UK housing market might have lost some of its momentum from previous years, Rightmove continues to make all the right moves as it has today posted a 20% increase in profits.
Both the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 continue to bubble around all-time high levels but are slightly lacking the conviction required to break even higher. Today’s offering of economic data might be the catalyst the markets have been looking for with US preliminary GDP, Chicago PMI, pending home sales and University of Michigan sentiment figures all due to be released, along with speeches from Federal Open Market Committee members William Dudley and Stanley Fischer.
Ahead of the open we expect the Dow Jones to start just 2 points lower at 18,207.