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A glance around the major European indices confirms that worries over market valuations are not solely based within the UK but across the channel too.
Weir Group heads FTSE
Scottish based Weir Group has stood out as the top performer in the FTSE 100 today. Following a profits warning the company made to the market in November, subsequent business has transpired as better-than-expected and an upturn in customer upstream-spending is anticipated. All of this has come together enabling Weir Group to announce that the start of 2014 is already better than in 2013.
Taylor Wimpey’s yearly profit-growth of 39% is very impressive when taken in isolation; however, when compared to the growth in the high forties of both Bovis Homes and Persimmon earlier in the week, it has left the market less than impressed.
Helped by the global success of dramas such as Downton Abbey, ITV has seen its earnings increase by 21%; so much so that it is now looking at making a special one-off dividend payment to shareholders of £161 million or 4p a share.
The latest update on Tesco’s retargeting of the UK market has seen institutions rush to announce downgraded price targets. The largest of the big four food retailers has now performed a U-turn of its 5.2% operating margin target; even
with another £200 million being invested in price cuts, timelines look likely to be missed.
S&P tests highs
The S&P 500 looks poised to once again test its all-time intraday highs, being driven up by a combination of confidence and data. Having witnessed two rounds of tapering from the Federal Reserve, followed by a reframe of the markets, panicking traders have begun to believe that there is life after the Federal Open Market Committee’s debt-purchasing scheme. With only a couple of dozen companies yet to report from the S&P 500, over 70% have managed to post figures better than the markets had anticipated. There are fewer stand-out performances, but it has been a broadly good reporting season none the less.
Gold spikes to four-month high
In early trading, gold managed to spike up to $1345 setting a new four-month high; however, just as quickly it has slunk back down below the open and collapsed to $1325. Still, such movement within the trading day highlights the progress that the precious metal has made in 2014.
Today’s US new home sales figures will have given a moment's respite to the embattled copper price, as it struggles to handle the softening construction data being released from China.
As the US continues to thaw out following the cold snaps at the beginning of February, natural gas prices are melting away too. They are down over 13% this week alone.
FX markets still sluggish
The currency market's lethargy has now stretched into a third day, as very few of the major currencies have shown any real volatility pending some meaningful stimulus from central banks or governments.
GBP/USD has spent much of the day sat less than a dozen points away from where it started. It squeezed in a 40-point move, drifting down to 1.6642, but now looks half asleep.
EUR/USD has been one of the bigger movers of the day, currently 1.3670 down 0.5% and edging towards its 50-day moving average.