FTSE lacks sparklers

In mid-morning trading the FTSE 100 is down 35 points, as mixed trading updates from British companies weigh on investor sentiment.

According to the EU economic forecast, the eurozone has a future as bright as Guy Fawkes did: growth will be sluggish and unemployment will remain stubbornly high. The update sets the tone for the European Central Bank press conference in two days’ time.

The banking sector was the belle of the market yesterday due to HSBC’s figures, but has been hit by profit-taking today. Royal Bank of Scotland is still suffering from the decision to set up an internal ‘bad bank’.

If it wasn’t for the mineral extractors, the FTSE 100 would be below the 6300 mark. The expansion in the HSBC Chinese services sector has showed investors that the Asian tiger is still roaring.

Royal & Sun Alliance shareholders will be sure to remember the fifth of November, as the stock is off 6% after the firm stated its return on equity will be lower: stormy weather has increased insurance claims. Meanwhile, Marks and Spencer is back above the 500p mark after revealing a small increase in food sales, but investors are wary about the decline in general merchandise revenue.

In the US, we are expecting the Dow to open 50 points lower at 15,589, as dealers are booking their profits following the strong start to the reporting season.

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