Overnight, Beijing revealed better-than-expected trade balance figures for July, with exports up 5% and imports 10% higher, compared with June, pointing to a Chinese economy which is stabilising and not declining as some economists feared.
China is one of the biggest importers of natural resources like copper, so the positive figures prompted traders to buy mining companies.
Despite announcing an 18% drop in six-month profit, mining giant Rio Tinto is up 0.8%, partially due to the Chinese data and also thanks to its increased dividend announcement.
Aviva swung into profit, announcing a pre-tax profit of £776 million, compared with a loss of £624 million for the same six month period last year. Its share price is up 7% so far.
Fellow insurer Standard Life revealed a 6% increase in first-half profit and a 21% rise in assets under management. However, the results didn’t meet expectations and the share price is down 2.4% today.
We are expecting the Dow Jones to open 80 points higher at 15,550, after traders viewed the increase in jobless claims as a positive for the stock market; the negative data means the Federal Reserve is less likely to taper the US stimulus package.