Soft start to busy week

A lacklustre start to the week with the FTSE 100 down 20 points, as traders organise themselves ahead of a busy week of economic data releases that kick off tomorrow.

After such an all-round solid finish to last week the FTSE has, like European markets, started the new week softly. However, the suggestion from US Federal Reserve chairwoman-in-waiting Janet Yellen, that the US would not start tapering anytime soon, should have given equity traders the nudge they need to start the Christmas rally. 

The economic calendar for the day looks a little thin on the ground with only the EU current account and trade balance figures, potentially raising interest levels. This could well be the calm before the storm as Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are packed with a multitude of market-moving announcements. 

The success and trader appetite for IPO’s looks to have encouraged Saga, the travel agent for the older citizen, to step up plans to launch a £3 billion float on the London Stock Exchange.  

Lloyds has come to an agreement with Aberdeen Asset Management over the sale of Scottish Widows, promising an initial downpayment of £560 million with the possibility of a further £100 million depending on performance. 

Petrofac has caught the market by surprise with its announcement that 2014 would see net income flat, anticipating a rather gloomy outlook for 2015. This appears to have given traders ample reason to sell the stock and within the first hour of trading the shares were already down over 14%. 

All three of the major US markets finished last week just a short distance from some big round levels; although UK traders tend to shy away from these, US traders are drawn like moths to the flame. It looks likely that we will see the Dow Jones trading in the 16,000s, the NASDAQ in the 4,000s and the S&P 500 in the 1,800s before the week is out. Ahead of the open today we expect the Dow to start 20 points lower at 15,941.

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