HSBC tops FTSE on relocation discussions

Despite a Eurogroup meeting hanging over markets, the week is ending relatively well, with the FTSE 100 20 points higher.

HSBC building in Canary Wharf
Source: Bloomberg

Greeks miss another deadline

Signs of hope in the never-ending Greek drama were dashed this morning, and in spectacular style (for eurozone meetings at least). Most investors have long lost their patience with Greece, and it seems the eurozone’s politicians are thoroughly fed up as well.

Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis was denounced as a ‘time-waster’ and 'a gambler', as opinion hardened against Athens. Such an atmosphere makes it hard to envision any progress today – yet another deadline missed, the latest in a litany of missed opportunities to put the eurozone back on course. In the end, we’ll just have to wait for the next instalment.

HSBC took the top spot on the FTSE 100, with the headlines dominated by  discussions over redomiciling, but given the titanic size of its balance sheet there are few economies that could bear the load. Instead the bank is merely opening the batting on further discussions regarding the UK’s bank levy, with the threat to up sticks a means of applying somewhat unsubtle pressure on the British government.

US markets look ahead to Apple figures

US tech stocks continue to enjoy a bounce ahead of key numbers from Apple next week, but the broader market was as lacklustre today as it has been all week.

Durable goods numbers were decidedly mixed, with orders excluding aircraft and military goods down for a seventh successive month. This does not look like an economy going at full steam, and with other numbers this week having been poor there is much less pressure on the Federal Reserve to take action.

Next week’s meeting should pass with the minimum of fuss, especially with earnings season in full swing. Investors still seem to be in a mood to push markets higher, but a real opportunity is yet to present itself, hence the consolidation moves of  the past few sessions.

Gold slips below $1180

Gold has made a break for the bottom end of its current trading range, ending the week on a downbeat note as it looks to close below $1180. The metal has looked shaky all week, and it would be a relief to see a sustained movement develop after weeks of indecision.

Brent crude struggled to build on yesterday’s big move higher, but the real action was in its US counterpart, which slipped again as the zone around $58 proved too much to handle.

Cable soars higher

There was little stopping GBP/USD today as the currency pair soared to its highest level in over a month, but it looks more like dollar weakness than pound strength at play here.

With the election race as tight as ever the outlook is far too uncertain for all but the bravest of traders, which will leave some sterling bears keen to get their shorts back on again, especially as the currency pair hits the 100-day moving average. Last time this happened the breakdown was swift, and the prospect of weeks of political horse-trading post 7 May offers an ideal environment to send the pound southwards.

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