Thursday morning snapshot

A snapshot of the early morning's equity news and key market movements.

Last night in the US: The Dow Jones closed up 158 points at 16,533, the NASDAQ finished up 34 points at 4131 and the S&P 500 ended the day up 15 points at 1888.

This morning in London: The FTSE 100 is currently up 19 points at 6840.

FX and commodities: GBP/USD is down 12 pips at $1.6886, EUR/USD is down 24 pips at $1.3662 and USD/JPY is up 21 pips at ¥101.57. Brent crude is down four cents at $110.46 and gold is trading at $1295, up $4.50.

Stocks: Lloyds Banking Group is joining a class action suit against the Royal Bank of Scotland over its handling of its £12 billion rights issue. Royal Mail has posted its first annual figures since floating. Mothercare’s shares bounced after the company finally showed signs of improvement. SABMiller reported a 1% increase in its full-year figures. United Utilities has stated it is confident of meeting its full-year targets..

The day ahead: Once again French manufacturing and service purchasing managers index have contracted, coming in worse than expected. The markets will now be waiting for the German figures, hoping they can rectify the damage done. UK second estimate quarterly gross domestic product figures are also out. In the afternoon we will see US unemployment claims and existing home sales figures.

All figures correct at 8.15am. All times London time.

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