European markets struggle in early trading

Once again Asia has set a poor tone for the rest of the markets to follow, and bulls will find their confidence tested.

It has been another disappointing session for the Nikkei, as the Japanese index dropped another 3% overnight. Over the course of the year up to its recent high it had put on over 40%, so arguably there was a fair amount of froth to deal with.

This was compounded by some weak Chinese manufacturing PMI figures from HSBC that have again missed their target. With traders set to see manufacturing PMI figures for Italy, Spain, UK and the US later today, we could get a clearer picture of the economic health of all the major financial regions.

At mid-morning the client sentiment indictor for the FTSE is showing that 51% of our clients are short of the index. This highlights how confusing the quantitative easing and poor economic data conundrum is. Looking at the largest gainers and fallers also fails to paint a clear picture.

Traders in the UK will also be aware that Sir Mervyn King has now effectively stepped down as the governor of the Bank of England, and Mark Carney is due to start before the end of the month. This has created a bit of a limbo as far as action-taking is concerned, though Mark Carney will only be one of nine able to vote on economic stimulus measures. For the time being, however, the markets look set to be led by manufacturing PMI data, and this could well set the trend for the week.

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