Overnight Chinese GDP figures have undershot market expectations and are the worst we have seen from the Asian powerhouse in six years, denting European markets before they had even opened. Considering that the ABS scheme, the targeted LTRO scheme and now QE are all up and running, this afternoon's ECB press conference will offer Mario Draghi arguably one of the most relaxing Q&A sessions during his time in charge. Relaxing, that is, if it weren’t for the fact that Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has set off for the US to speak to Barack Obama and specialist lawyers with the aim of reorganising the country's sovereign debt.
The two ends of the fashion spectrum have been in focus today, with both Burberry and JD Sports reporting financial earnings. Even though JD's tracksuit and trainers look has not had the same international success as Burberry’s 'English Style', full-year revenues up by 25% are impressive figures for the sports retailer none the less. The City’s willingness to entertain rumours, following a number of mega-mergers, has seen Scottish engineering firm Weir Group scuttle higher as press speculation is rife that previously dormant deals might be back on the table. Record-setting equity indices continue to offer ample assistance to Jupiter Fund Management, which has seen assets under management increase by 9% in the last quarter alone. Following the creation of Dixons Carphone the reorganisation continues with the chain selling off its German exposure to Drillisch for a combination of stock and future profits.
The US corporate big-hitters keep coming with the focus still on the banks. Following last night’s JPMorgan and Wells Fargo figures it is now the turn of Bank of America, Charles Schwab and US Bancorp. Ensuring the financials don’t get all the headlines we will also be getting first-quarter figures from Delta Air Lines and Netflix. Any concerns so far that the strength of the US dollar will dent profits have as yet been unfounded, but we still have some way to go. The corporates might be taking the majority of the headlines but it is still worth remembering that we have the latest US oil inventories along with the Fed’s Beige Book out tonight.
Ahead of the open we expect the Dow Jones to start 31 points higher at 18,067.