FTSE fights to keep gains

Last night’s US selloff has dented European markets’ enthusiasm, with the FTSE 100 battling to remain above the 7000 level. 

Source: Bloomberg

Yesterday’s UK inflation news, or more accurately the absence of inflation, was met with muted excitement as GBP/USD hardly registered an interest in what had been signposted for some time. The FTSE has gamely held above the 7,000 level, and having taken so long to breach this summit it appears reluctant to give up these gains regardless of how flighty the European markets look. This morning’s fractionally better-than-expected German Ifo figures should go some way to shoring up sentiment in the eurozone.

United Utilities has confirmed it is on track to meet the markets’ full-year expectations, with revenue slightly higher and financing costs falling. Notable by its absence was any reference to the Labour Party’s stance on greater powers being passed onto utility regulators.

Balfour Beatty continues to disappoint the market with its latest full-year figures showing a loss of £59 million as 2014 saw numerous profits warnings throughout the year, culminating in the company cancelling its final dividend.

Moneysupermarket.com founder Simon Nixon has had a very quick change of heart as yesterday’s announcement that he was going to sell a stake of 6.4% in the company has been rescinded. Maybe with inflation now at 0% he is waiting to release these funds on another occasion, as he has compared the market and decided selling at a later date might see his money go a little further.

Rounding off what have been impressive figures from the UK house building sector, Bellway has seen its first-half pre-tax profits jump by 53%, enabling the company to increase its interim dividend by 56% to 25p.

Today will see the release of US durable goods orders. The recent past has seen a frequent pattern of better-than-expected data coming out of the US, and it will be interesting to see how easily this trend can be maintained. Less convincing is the markets’ perception of the corporate arena as the dollar continues to flex its muscles, making US exporters shift nervously in their seats.

Ahead of the open we expect the Dow Jones to start 12 points higher at 18,023.

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