Apple and Facebook dominate today's agenda

If Apple can cement its dominance in China then its position at the top of the pile remains assured, so news surrounding Apple's latest mobile carrier partner, China Mobile, will be of paramount interest. 

For Facebook, the arrival of mobile ads has long been expected, and it is widely believed that the future of the company rests on the success or failure of this venture.

In mid-morning trade the FTSE 100 is all but unchanged, hovering around 6682, as England basks in the traditional frenzy of St George’s Day celebrations.

The news from Associated British Foods will put new life into speculation that its Primark clothing division will be spun out. ABF reported a 10% rise in earnings per share, with Primark cushioning the blow from sluggish trading in its sugar business. As a result, Primark becomes the latest in a long line of British firms hoping to make it big in the US. One can only hope that its efforts are more successful than those of Tesco. ABF shareholders will be cheering a rise in the dividend as well, while a comparison with the FTSE 100 shows that while the latter has gained just 4.4% over the past twelve months, ABF has risen by almost 50%. Momentum continues to lift AstraZeneca, as the stock continues to hover near all-time highs.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England minutes revealed no change in the broad picture on the Monetary Policy Committee. Aside from trite observations about ‘considerable momentum’ in UK house prices, the committee noted the growing momentum in the economy, but we’re none the wiser on if and when the first rate hike will arrive.

Ahead of the open we expect the Dow Jones to start 12 points higher at 16,526.

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