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There are several aspects combing to cause equity markets to fall, including a weak opening for the Dow Jones. Firstly, thinner trade volumes due to the summer holidays have naturally led to a reduction in the number of buy-on-the-dip traders. Today has also seen an absence of driving forces, with a scarcity of corporate news-flow and a dearth of economic data from Europe and the US. Lastly, we await the impact of the looming US Federal budgetary comments.
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has been anything but clear in his previous statements when it comes to the timetable for tapering the US quantitative easing policy. Most of the statements have carried a fairly large amount of ambiguity, enabling both bulls and bears to claim the high ground.
The main equity news today is from Prudential, who posted an operating profit increase of 22%, which has enabled the insurer to increase its dividend by 16%. This confirms a complete turnaround from the disappointing days when its overly generous bid for AIA ultimately led to failure.
Business secretary Vince Cable has confirmed the government will not sell its stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland until 2018.