Not so sunny morning for FTSE

The sun might be shining in London but it hasn’t had any beneficial effect on the outlook in European markets which have started the week firmly in the red, with the FTSE 100 down 35 points.

The mood in London can quickly be gathered by looking at the big up-movers on the FTSE 100, where defensive names such as Reckitt Benckiser, Imperial Tobacco and Unilever predominate. After the battering they took last week, investors can be forgiven for feeling more than a little unenthusiastic about plunging back into the riskier side of the market. 

Eastern Ukraine has been riven afresh by discontent, propelling the country back to the top of the agenda, pushing oil higher, with US crude touching a six-week high over concerns about supply implications.

Activity in the mining sector, where Glencore Xstrata has sold off its interest in a Peruvian copper mine to a Chinese consortium, is propping up some of the names in this sector, with Antofagasta enjoying a 1% rise and Rio Tinto edging 0.2% higher. The recovery in copper prices has stalled of late, but traders in this metal will be waiting for Wednesday when the next shipment of Chinese data is delivered.

The avalanche of selling in US indices appears to have run its course for the time being. With the Dow Jones just a whisker above 16,000, there will be a lot of traders anxiously waiting for a drop below this level and not just because it has several zeroes on the end of it. The 16,000 level provided decent support for buyers to re-enter the fray during February and March. 

US March retail sales, which are forecast to grow by 0.8%, are published this afternoon and evidence of consumer spending will at least provide some positive news for embattled markets. Ahead of the open, we expect the Dow to open almost unchanged from Friday, at 16,029, up just three points.

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