Ahead of the European Central Bank decision this afternoon most equities are relatively little-changed, although Standard Life is standing apart from the pack with a 9% rise after it announced the sale of its Canadian business. Shareholders will receive £1.75 billion of the proceeds from the sale, a very nice present to go with their existing chunky dividend yield.
SuperGroup bounced almost 8% after it reported a healthy increase in total first-quarter sales, but strong comparatives meant that like-for-like sales were down 3.7%. Handily, the group intends to rectify this troubling issue by altering its reporting calendar, which will raise a few eyebrows among the cynical in the city.
In the hours before the ECB announcement, most equity markets are on the back foot, with Germany and France both shedding some of the gains seen yesterday. Mario Draghi, fresh from his birthday celebrations, needs to provide something to markets to avoid a lingering sense of disappointment, be that actual QE or just hints that QE is on its way.
With targeted long-term refinancing operation measures yet to bed in, the prudent course is to wait and see, but financial markets are not big fans of the ‘prudent’ course of action.
ADP job numbers come in from the US today, a day late due to the Labor Day holiday, providing the usual warm up to non-farms tomorrow. However, with the ECB press conference kicking off at the same time, the number is likely to carry less weight than normal.
Ahead of the open, we expect the Dow Jones to start 6 points lower at 17,072.