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The bears have had a clean sweep this week as once more Friday saw red dominating trading screens, while the FTSE gave every sign that it was going to have a fifth selloff this week.
Greatly adding to the pressure on equities has been the negativity towards the mining sector, with the relief rally in Glencore being one of the few blips on an otherwise steady flow of bad news.
Today has seen several institutional downgrades for both BHP Billiton and Anglo American adding to the perception that the end of dividend payments is likely to be a template that more companies follow.
Bellway shares have added another 3% in early trading today, again posting improving figures. A 10% increase in properties sold with a 10% increase in sales value and an improving profit margin have enabled it to increase its annual dividend by 44%.
Today has seen the two ends of the spectrum when it comes to investor appetite for rights issues. Standard Chartered’s efforts to raise £3.3 billion has seen a healthy 96% take up, while Lonmin’s third rights issue since 2009 has seen a 71% take up even though priced at aggressively low levels.
Mike Ashley must be feeling sorry for himself this morning, as to add to yesterday’s collapse in Sports Direct shares his own company broker, Goldman Sachs, has cut its price target for the company for the second time in a week.
Today will see an update on the European Central Bank targeted LTRO scheme and the latest US retail sales figures, but neither will be get too much attention as traders are already fully focused on next week’s releases. If we are to see much of performance from equity markets in December, next week will need to see the start of a robust Santa rally.
The Fed chair Janet Yellen looks set to decide whether investors have a jolly Christmas or not.
Ahead of the open we expect the Dow Jones to start 26 points lower, at 17,548.