Markets have wobbled in the early trading session, following the double whammy of hawkish minutes from last night's Federal Reserve meeting combined with an overnight weakening in HSBC Chinese manufacturing PMI figures. The tone of the minutes is in direct contrast with the dovish spirit of Janet Yellen’s first speech, leaving markets as confused as ever. Traders began the day with more than just their cappuccinos looking frothy. Poor French service and manufacturing figures have partially been negated by solid German figures, in a trend that is all too familiar for these two countries.
Amazingly, Mothercare keeps struggling to capitalise on the UK's current baby boom. However, it has been able to improve international sales sufficiently to post a £2 million pre-tax profit. Another 18 stores across the UK are set to be closed, as the shift in shoppers' preferences towards 'click and collect' necessitates change. SAB Miller has posted remarkably familiar figures. It reports growth in developing markets, struggling Western sales, improving margins and solid hedging of currency exposure. Unfortunately for the company, markets are unlikely to reward this, as traders' attention will be distracted by all the macro froth swirling around. Daily Mail & General Trust has impressed, with profits up 10%, partially explaining the 50% share price rise in 2013. Of course, the fact its 52% holding continues to climb in Zoopla, the online property website valued at £1.2 billion, hasn’t harmed it either.
With both the Dow and the S&P 500 having hit all-time highs again at the beginning of the week, it is not too much of a surprise that the hawkish tone from last night's Fed minutes release has taken the edge off the bullish markets. We may well ask which has more relevance: comments from numerous members of the FOMC in the last couple of days, or three-week- old minutes from the last FOMC meeting? Judging by US markets' reaction, apparently the latter.
Ahead of the open, we expect the Dow Jones to start 20 points higher at 15,920.