Markets steady ahead of ECB

In mid-morning trading, the FTSE 100 is 12 points lower, once again lagging behind its European peers.

Source: Bloomberg
  • Markets hover ahead of ECB
  • Travis Perkins puts fright into housing stocks
  • UK retail surge

A steady battle of attrition continues in London, with the index still unable to establish a direction after four days of relentless grind. However, at least today we have a real reason for not moving too far – namely the ECB meeting.

The general consensus is that Mario Draghi needs to do something to get things moving in the eurozone, but there is a sense that neither the ECB nor financial markets know exactly what that will be. We can hope for some indication that action is on its way, although the ECB president will be understandably keen to keep the details under wraps for now.

Housebuilders are jittery this morning after building merchant Travis Perkins warned on earnings. Weaker demand of late has taken the shine off a steady rise in sales overall, raising concerns that such names as Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and others may be in line for a more sustained correction.

UK retail sales surged in September, according to figures from the ONS. The pound took flight as a result, although the $1.55 level is still proving to be an insuperable barrier, with cable stuck in a 100-point range for the past six sessions. This morning’s figures appear to suggest that UK consumers are in no way put off by falling prices, taking advantage of the chance to spend rather than waiting for a further drop.

eBay shares put in a good showing last night, despite a drop in sales, but most attention was focused on Valeant, whose shares continue to come under pressure after a decade of growth.

The ECB will command the afternoon headlines, but we do have existing home sales on the calendar for the US, plus big name earnings from the likes of Microsoft, Amazon and Google’s parent firm Alphabet.

Ahead of the open, we expect the Dow Jones to start 15 points higher, at 17,183.

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