Thin volumes see FTSE ease higher

The FTSE is trying to ensure it finishes the year on a positive note as it heads towards the close, up by 18 points.  

City of London
Source: Bloomberg

With numerous countries enjoying bank holidays today and the likes of the FTSE closing just after midday, traders have seen a lethargic market struggle to move into second gear.

The overnight Chinese manufacturing PMI figures might have been fractionally better but not sufficiently so to trigger a move, and the US economic data is not going to be posted until after most of Europe has headed home. 

The quiet trading session will have given many a moment to review the year and, for the first time in over a decade, this December the FTSE will close at lower levels than it started. Considering the FTSE flirted with the 6900 level on several occasions over the year, predictions of a year end 7000 level certainly did not look too outrageous.

This year saw the end of US quantitative easing, something that many had worried over but markets took in their stride. The legalities of Russia’s annexation of Crimea will be debated for years to come, a timeline similar to the sanctions the West has imposed on Russia.

The economic picture materialising out of China has seen a continuing cooling of its economy, not down to levels of Western nations but sufficiently low to see commodity stocks do some serious rescaling of their future expectations.

The oil price in the last six months has also collapsed by 50%, as Saudi and OPEC nations play hardball over market share. Early expectations of a two-horse race between the US and UK in raising rates in 2014 has ended with a whimper and not a bang.

As we look into 2015, the picture is clouded by Greek elections that threaten to reignite the eurozone crisis, while there seems no end in sight to the rout in oil prices. The FTSE lagged its peers for most of 2014 and with conditions as they are it will struggle to keep up in the year ahead.

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