As fast as Rio Tinto might be improving productivity or reducing costs, the underlying commodity market is moving equally quickly to erode those improvements. Arguably the ability of the board to maintain their full-year targets should be seen as a success in itself. Also posting third-quarter figures today, Carrefour, the world’s second largest food retailer, has also suffered at the hands of cooling demand in China. However, improving sales in Europe have underpinned increased optimism over its core market while a leap in Brazilian sales helped edge overall sales ahead of expectations. Yesterday’s Bank of England announcements over ring-fencing regulations were milder than many had expected and the relief rally triggered yesterday in this sector continues to pick up pace today.
At the end of the week we have now seen a tenth of the S&P 500 companies post their third-quarter figures. Even though headlines might suggest a sluggish quarter, we have still seen just over 75% of those firms reporting better-than-expected earnings per share. Sales figures over that same period however have been considerably less impressive. All of this points towards a US corporate picture telling us the same thing as economic releases, that the FOMC should be feeling no increased pressure to raise rates just yet. We are expecting the Dow Jones to open 17 points higher from Thursday’s close at 17,084.