Russia rumours jitter markets

Talk of press conferences in Russia has disrupted the previously bullish atmosphere of the day, with the FTSE 100 now up just ten points.

FTSE supported by AstraZeneca results

The FTSE 100 spent most of the day sitting comfortably above 6700. This put it at its highest level since the first half of March, supported by positive feedback from Facebook and Apple results in the US overnight.

AstraZeneca results were just the pill needed to keep the positive atmosphere going, and the stock has held on to its gains in the afternoon session.

Building firm Travis Perkins is looking a little more lopsided as the day goes on, however, shedding all of its initial pop and now back to last week’s lows around £17.60. Having seen the shares double since 2012, investors can be forgiven for profit-taking, and it now seems that £20 is the roof on the price action for now.

US markets jittery

In the US, hopes were high that the NASDAQ would rise triumphantly from its sick bed and race higher. These expectations have been dashed, and in fact we were rapidly treated to a fresh visit to yesterday’s lows. Several days of consecutive gains left the index looking a bit overextended and vulnerable to some opportunistic shorting.

All US indices began the day with gains, but reports of a press conference in Russia caused a rapid selloff. These reports were swiftly denied, and now the indices are trying to pretend nothing has happened, although the swift selloff shows this market is still jittery.

Facebook itself has held on grimly despite some fairly see-saw price action, but Apple is the standout winner, soaring majestically with an 8% gain from yesterday’s close thanks to market-beating results. Amazon and Microsoft are next in the queue, with Caterpillar providing an amusing, industrial interlude between bouts of earnings from tech companies.

Copper surges higher

Copper prices have leapt higher this afternoon, touching a six-week high. Optimism about the global economy has picked up, boosting hopes of increased consumption. The surge higher means that $3.20 is back in focus, for the first time since early March. The Putin press conference rumour boosted gold and silver too, showing the safe-haven appeal still has its adherents. We’ve seen gold bounce between $1280 and $1330, and it looks as if we’re about to test the top of its range again.

USD/JPY gains vanish

Volatility returned to USD/JPY on the press conference rumours, as the day’s gains were rapidly wiped away on safe-haven buying of the Japanese currency. It did briefly probe ¥102.10 but seems to have found a floor around yesterday’s lows of ¥102.20. Vladimir Putin’s failure to appear in front of the cameras assuaged fears that he was about to crank up the crisis level in Ukraine, allowing the frenzy of activity to ebb somewhat.  

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