FTSE slumps as uncertainty lingers

In mid-morning trading the FTSE 100 is down over 15 points, as the market's bullish sentiment has been further put to the test following yesterday’s sell-off.

At the start of Friday's business, traders are asking themselves if Thursday’s negativity was simply a bit of a shake-out or the start of a more extensive move lower. Bank of England governor Mark Carney will be speaking today, at around midday, and although he will not be issuing any specific data releases the subject of UK interest rates and forward guidance will no doubt come to the fore. Also talking today, George Osborne has been on a Q&A panel in Davos, where he defended his strategy for turning the UK economy around under the glare of the global media.

Where a decreasing number of cards being sent in December might have let down Royal Mail, an increase in parcel deliveries has more than compensated for this. The increasing trend for shopping online, and the consequent need to deliver these purchases, has helped the newly floated company meet market expectations.

Weir, the Scottish-based engineering company, has managed to secure another maintenance contract in the Middle East. This time it will be providing assistance to Lukoil's Iraqi operations. Once again, disruption to a number of mines in South Africa has seen labour forces down tools over poor pay and conditions, affecting the likes of Anglo Americanand Lonmin.

Today’s economic calendar is completely clear for the US, although heading into the weekend in Davos we do tend to get one or two more interesting quotes coming from the massed ranks of global power players. In contrast to the scarcity of data from the economic calendar, the US corporate reporting season continues at a pace. Up today we have Xerox Corp, Procter & Gamble, Honeywell and State Street Corp among the leading names. Ahead of the open, we expect the Dow Jones to start 40 points lower at 15,500.

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