Yesterday the European Central Bank confirmed that from March it will embark on a €60 billion monthly quantitative easing policy. This would see €1.2 trillion in public and private debt being purchased until September 2016 or until inflation stabilises at the targeted 2%. Even though this QE plan is yet to start, the markets are already in full debate over what phase two of QE might look like. Could they increase the monthly spend to €80 billion? Considering the US Federal Reserve ran its QE over six years and ended up having three different phases, this could well be a possibility. Worries that the markets might revert to type in 'buying the rumour and selling the news' are yet to materialise, however, with their focus now shifting to the Greek general election. As a result, an afternoon of profit-taking on historic highs in European equity markets could come about.
The mobile phone sector has seen further merger and acquisition activity, as Asia’s Hutchison Whampoa has agreed to buy O2 from Telefonica for £10.25 billion. Having previously flirted with the idea of hooking up with old flame BT, it appears that O2 has moved on to pastures new.
Carillion has announced two new contracts with the British government worth £200 million, providing prison service management.
Although Premier Foods figures are broadly in line with expectations, shares have jumped by 8.5%. The highest market share they have seen in three years is partly responsible, but a re-assessment of an overly bearish perception of the company is also playing its part.
Mixed messages are still coming out of corporate US as the reporting season progresses, and yesterday it was the turn of Verizon to disappoint. The headline acts today are General Electric and McDonald's, both of whom are due to post figures before US markets open. The majority of this week’s headlines have been hogged by the Europeans, but this afternoon’s US flash manufacturing PMI should see attention diverted back across the Atlantic before the weekend and the Greek excitement that it brings.
Ahead of the open we expect the Dow Jones to start 8 points lower at 17,805.