Banking sector drags UK index lower

Today's session got off to a positive start as traders waited eagerly for the latest results from HSBC, but equities have been drifting lower following results which failed to impress investors. Heading into the close the FTSE 100 is down 30 points.

UK markets

In London, the banking sector is dragging the market lower after HSBC's first-half figures were good but not good enough to entice traders to go long. The largest bank in Europe announced an increase in profit but fell below expectations, prompting traders to unload positions in the Asian-focused bank. Natural resource stocks initially propped up the FTSE 100 but as the day went on dealers lost their appetite for risk.

US markets

US equities are a touch lower after last week’s mixed unemployment data left traders unsure of the Federal Reserve’s next move. If the non-farm payrolls headline figures had exceeded expectations it is likely tapering fears would have kicked in by now. With the US reporting season largely behind us, there is little newsflow that will get traders excited, but this afternoon's positive ISM non-manufacturing report did help US stocks move off their lows.

Commodities

Copper is broadly unchanged on the day as slightly better-than-expected data from China over the weekend has given the country some much-needed positive news. Traders tend be fixated on the declining growth levels of the once booming economy. Crude oil has come off it recent high as tensions in Egypt have calmed down, but if the political uncertainty continues we could see another spike in the price.

FX

Sterling received a shot in the arm after the UK services sector index for July recorded its highest level since 2007. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar is hovering around the $0.89 mark, with interest rates at a record low in Australia and the possibility of a rate-cut from the Reserve Bank of Australia.

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