FTSE supported by relief rally

The FTSE 100 is on the front foot for a second consecutive day, supported by a relief rally following yesterday’s Federal Reserve minutes and good news in the retail sector.

Panic, what panic? The selloffs of Monday and Tuesday are but a distant memory this morning, as four days of furious activity have left the FTSE almost exactly where it was a week ago. Reassurance for anxious investors came in the Fed minutes, which allayed concerns about an earlier-than-expected rate increase. The return of Greece, the prodigal son of the eurozone, was also viewed in a positive light, and while softer Chinese data is hobbling the mining sector, it has been relegated to the back burner. For the moment, investors can cross the Federal Reserve off their list of ‘things to be worried about’.

Retailers in London took some of the top spots, after updates from WHSmith and Marks & Spencer. The latter has seen improvement in its non-food division, which had been lagging behind, while the former gave shareholders something to cheer about as it boosted dividends yet again. 

Investors worrying about a rate hike in the first part of 2015 can rest easier this morning, after the minutes from the latest Fed meeting struck a more dovish tone than had been the case in the press conference itself. The news gave a further boost to gold and silver prices, which gained ground as the dollar weakened, with gold moving to its highest level in more than two weeks. 

Jobless claims are on the agenda today, but we are likely to see something of a lull ahead of bank earnings tomorrow. Looking to the open, we expect the Dow Jones to start 25 points lower, at 16,410.

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