ECB caution and ex-dividends lead FTSE lower

In morning trading the FTSE 100 is shedding ground, down 25 points ahead of the European Central Bank meeting.

Mario Draghi
Source: Bloomberg

Big name ex-dividends are accounting for 10 of the 20 points the FTSE has misplaced this morning. RSA (-4%) lead us lower as a fall in premiums takes the shine off Stephen Hester’s turnaround endeavours.

Supermarkets are on the move and leaving the rest of the market in their wake today. Joining them is pseudo-supermarket Marks & Spencer, which continues to enjoy a revival of enthusiasm following yesterday’s results.

All eyes have turned to the ECB decision today, with only a modicum of attention being devoted to the Bank of England and its monthly ‘no change’ meeting. European markets are on the back foot ahead of Mario Draghi’s appearance in front of journalists, but given the strength of markets over the past week we could see a fresh move upwards if the Italian even hints at some form of policy accommodation in the coming months.

US markets continued their robust form last night, aided yesterday by ADP and ISM data that points towards a good reading for Friday’s non-farm payrolls report. While the Dow Jones keeps moving higher, the same cannot yet be said for the S&P 500, which remains constrained by the 2020 level.

A dovish ECB and strong NFPs tomorrow would round off the week nicely and give markets a base from which further gains can be constructed, but for the time being caution reigns supreme.

Ahead of the open we expect the Dow to begin 40 points lower at 17,444.

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