Nerves continue to get the better of traders as the wait for meaningful government policies from Athens continues to preoccupy investor thinking. Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem probably sums up northern European thinking most succinctly, with his judgment that the message 'We want your support but not your conditions’ will not fly. An escalation of the words war is imminent and, with the multitude of languages around the eurozone, the possibility of misinterpretation is limitless.
Now that we are fewer than 100 days away from the next UK general election, speculation will intensify, but judging by the IG general election binary we looks odds-on to have a hung parliament for the second time in a row, as neither of the two major parties appear able to gain a majority.
Following on from last night’s jaw-dropping Apple figures, ARM Holdings, the chip maker of choice for smartphone manufacturers, has received a healthy boost, seeing shares jump by over 2% in early trading.
Unsurprisingly, Anglo American has felt the squeeze in the commodity markets to the extent that an impairment charge for 2014 will now be required.
Chilean mining company Antofagasta has fared a little better, seeing a mild improvement in full-year production. The implications of the wobbling commodities market has also been felt by Johnson Matthey, although it has still been able to report an increase in full-year profits.
Tonight will see the Federal Open Market Committee statement released and speculation is that it could well keep phraseology similar to the last statement as it stalls for time. The slightly cooling economic data that has come out of the US is one reason why there is a little less pressure on the Federal Reserve to start raising interest rates, but another is the corporate picture. Investors have become increasingly accustomed to 75% of US corporations beating market expectations during the reporting season, but there is much less chance of that happening this time round. This week alone has seen Verizon, General Electric, McDonald's, Microsoft, Caterpillar and Procter & Gamble all fall short of expectations. Apple is powering on, however, as last year's red-tape cutting from China’s government has created greater spending power in its middle class. This has seen iPhone sales in China outsell the US for the first time, and the company is selling nine iPhones every second.
Ahead of the open we expect the Dow Jones to start 81 points higher at 17,468.