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Ahead of the three-day weekend in the US investors are leaning towards the defensive sector this morning, with European markets opening lower across the board. Oil prices have pulled back in part due to the rejection of possible military action against Syria in the British parliament last night, and the subsequent decline in oil stocks is hampering any real upside in the FTSE 100. BP and Royal Dutch Shell have shed over 1% in early trade.
The markets are also digesting yesterday’s better-than-expected US GDP figures, along with non-voting US Federal Reserve member Jeffrey Lacker’s statement that quantatitive easing tapering conditions have now been met and the Fed have thus decided to take some money off the table as we enter the final trading session of the month.
Unemployment data for the eurozone came in as expected at 12.1%, while inflation for the region came in at 1.3%, which was marginally lower than the estimated 1.4% year-on-year figure.
Markets will once again be paying close attention to Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis president James Bullard later this afternoon, looking for further clues on the Fed’s stance on monetary policy.
Gold prices have retreated below the $1400/oz mark due to the stronger greenback. The Chicago purchasing managers index (PMI) report may serve to give the dollar a further boost. Expectations are a slight improvement on last month’s number with a print of 53.2 expected.