FTSE down amid interest rate decisions

It's been another soft start to the day with the FTSE 100 down as confidence continues to be thin on the ground with traders struggling to focus on the positives. 

London skyline
Source: Bloomberg

India has jumped on the bandwagon and joined 19 other central banks in deciding to cut interest rates. The clamour for central bankers to stimulate markets through cuts leaves the US' and, to a lesser extent, the UK’s desires to rise looking increasingly isolated. Around Europe we will see service PMI data releases but nowhere is this more important than in the UK where it continues to make a sizeable contribution to economic health.

Considering yesterday’s German retail sales figures were unexpectedly high, back to levels last seen in 1992, this morning’s eurozone monthly retail sales figures should feel the benefits too. Having seen so many equity indices rally through the last month we may have moved too far too soon as traders look ease back on exposure. 

True to the management's word, Greggs has posted some cracking figures with pre-tax profit up 41.1% year-on-year driven by an improved product offering and better store locations. The company continues to buy back shares and has increased its dividend by 12.8%, showing that this is one pastry holding onto its puff.

ITV looks to have tuned in to markets' requirements as it has broadcast yet more encouraging figures. Advertising revenue continues to grow up 6% while studio revenue from dramas like Mr Selfridge and Downton Abbey has brought in an extra 9%.

Legal & General continues to feel the benefits of the government's drive to increase both corporate and personal pension provisions. It has seen annuity assets up by 28% and savings assets up by 10% enabling the firm to increase its own dividend by 21%.

Standard Chartered has single-handedly tried to balance out all of the positive corporate data today by posting full-year profits down by 30% and a fresh round of cost-cutting in the form of 2000 job cuts over 2015.

As the week’s economic data releases ramp up to Friday's important non-farm payrolls report the US equity markets appear to have lost a little of their confidence and moved into a risk-off mindset. NASDAQ’s move back above 5000 was short-lived and looks to have brought back memories of the overhyped tech bubble days rather than visions of a new dawn.

This afternoon will see the release of the ADP non-farm employment change, sometimes viewed as an indicator to Friday’s figures but as often as not more of a red herring.

Ahead of the open we expect the Dow Jones to start 58 points lower at 18,145.

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