Commodity stocks trim FTSE gains

In mid-morning trading the FTSE 100 is registering modest gains, but the decline in commodity stocks is preventing further upside moves.

A miner at work
Source: Bloomberg

The London market has been sliding since the market open, but it is still in the black. The reversal in fortune for the mining sector is holding back the British equity index.

Continental Europe is making up for last week’s losses and despite the looming Eurogroup meeting at the end of the week to discuss Greece’s finances, traders are confident the indebted nation will be given yet another chance.

Athens has been hoovering up any spare cash from local authorities to show the European Central Bank it means business; however, this is the political equivalent of collecting coins that have fallen down the back of the couch, but it may save them yet.

Wet weather caused Rio Tinto to miss its iron ore production estimates, and even though iron ore prices are at multi-year lows the mining giant is hoping to ramp up production to offset the weak price and put pressure on small rivals. The slump in metal prices has turned commodity companies against each other, and with Glencore on the prowl Rio Tinto will have to up its game or go onto the acquisition trail in order to avoid another takeover approach.

Shares in Sky hit a 14-year high after the broadcaster registered a solid set of third-quarter results. The expansion on the continent is showing results already, and the biggest growth regions were Germany and Austria. Sky is also drawing new customers closer to home as the UK and Ireland division added 127,000 new clients during the three month period.

Associated British Foods’ shares are trading lower this morning as the double-digit sales growth at Primark was not enough to offset the subdued sugar business. The success of the share price over the past two years has been heavily dependent on Primark, while the food business still leaves a sour taste in shareholders’ mouths.

IG is offering political markets on the UK general election, and the market is indicating there is a 91% chance of no overall majority. The political market on who the next Prime Minister will be is indicating a 43.5% chance it will be David Cameron and a 56.5% chance it will be Ed Miliband.

In the US, we are expecting the Dow Jones to open 75 points higher, at 18,110, and IBM shares are trading marginally higher following last night’s first-quarter figures. The shares spiked immediately after the report but quickly retreated as the revenue declined for the twelfth consecutive quarter, and the strength of the dollar pared earnings.

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