Thursday morning snapshot

A snapshot of the early morning's equity news and key market movements.

Last night in the US: The Dow Jones closed up 181 points at 16,437, the NASDAQ finished up 71 points at 4183 and the S&P 500 ended the day up 20 points at 1872.

This morning in London: The FTSE 100 is currently up 23 points at 6659.

FX and commodities: GBP/USD is down two pips at $1.6792, EUR/USD is down 11 pips at $1.3843 and USD/JPY is down 26 pips at ¥101.72. Brent crude is down 31 cents at $107.59 and gold is trading at $1318, up $6.45.

Stocks: For the eleventh straight quarter, Marks and Spencer has seen non-food sales fall and CEO Marc Bolland’s position is becoming increasingly uncomfortable. Royal Bank of Scotland has bought the government’s right for priority in any dividend payment for £1.5 billion. This is another step towards the embattled bank paying dividends to shareholders again. WHSmith has increased its dividend payments by 15% after a 3% improvement in profits. Vodafone has increased its Indian exposure with the $1.48 billion acquisition of an 11% stake in India’s Piramal Enterprises.

The day ahead: Chinese trade balance figures exceeded expectations and will set an optimistic tone for European markets. Today is a busy day for economic issues, with the Bank of England announcing its interest rate decision, followed by the Monetary Policy Committee statement and the latest monthly European Central Bank bulletin. Today is also the start of the G7 meetings and day one of the G20 meetings. Finally at 7pm we will see the US federal budget balance.

All figures correct at 8.15am. All times London time.

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