FTSE breaks its losing streak

Heading into the close the FTSE 100 is up 15 points and looks set to end the day around the 6450 level.

UK markets

The FTSE 100 has been in positive territory for most of the day, as a mixture of short-covering and bargain-hunting has kept stocks in demand. The London benchmark index has had a four-day losing streak, but better-than-expected services data from China and the eurozone could help the market break the cycle.

Airliner easyJet got off to a good start by announcing that its full-year profit will come in at the top end of analysts' estimates, but soon came back to earth as profit-taking set in. Aviva pulled in an additional $800 million from the sale of its US operation to a Bermuda-based insurer.

US markets

The political stalemate in Washington set the wheels in motion for the sell-off, but the final nail in the coffin came when the CME hiked margin requirements for index futures. Exchanges don’t have a history of increasing margins when blue skies are ahead. The deadlock over the budget is of minor importance; the major issue is the debt-ceiling deadline, and if relations haven’t improved by mid-October we could be looking at another downgrade. The partial shutdown in the US is starting to take its toll though, and the key non-farm payrolls report will now not be announced tomorrow due to the bickering between both parties.

Commodities

Gold has given up some of yesterday’s gains as profit-taking has set in. The precious metal is now sliding back towards its eight-month low. Copper is also in decline as traders are worried about growing stockpiles.

FX

The pound is weaker after the UK services report came in below estimates. Sterling has had a stellar run recently, so it is no surprise to see some profits being booked.

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