The FTSE 100 resisted the pull lower of Wall Street to open 19 points to the good at 7,508.43 on what is expected to be sluggish day of trade.
In fact all the action looks likely to be centred on London’s foreign exchange desks with the pound under pressure once more – and languishing at US$1.2438 – amid heightened worries over a No Deal Brexit pushing it down to US$1.2428.
“Sterling is on the back foot again as traders worry about the way Boris Johnson has started,” said Neil Wilson at Markets.com.
“Specifically, comments from the Irish leader and Michel Barnier suggest little room for wiggle.
“Barnier is simply restating that the deal is the deal and cannot be changed. The sides are now very much at odds.
“The rhetoric has shifted and Boris seems intent on forcing their hand by using the date to his advantage. No-deal risks raised for sure – therefore likely that an election is required.”
Looking at the individual market movements, Pearson (LON:PSON) led the way, rising 7% after a solid set of interims which revealed the publisher’s digital revolution was gaining traction.
Pearson’s rise eclipsed that of Vodafone (LON:VOD), which was up 5% after a trading statement in which it said it could list its towers business.
On the flipside, the miners were on offer with Anglo American (LON:AAL) leading the fallers. Traders learned on Thursday that steel tycoon Anil Agarwal was unwinding a complicated transaction that made him Anglo’s biggest shareholder.
Scheduled for release on Friday, so far we’ve seen neither hide nor hair.
6.30am: FTSE 100 set for day of limited movements
Another day of limited movement looks in store for the Footsie despite the sharp falls posted on Wall Street yesterday.
Spread betting quotes point to the FTSE 100 opening a couple of points higher at 7,491 after the index shed 12 points yesterday to close at 7,489.
US stocks finished largely in the red, including online retail giant and tax specialist Amazon.com, which missed operating profit expectations by 16.7%.
“For most companies, missing profit expectations by 16%+ would be a major blow, but Amazon’s always taken a fairly laissez-faire approach to the bottom line. CEO Jeff Bezos is far more interested in growth, cash generation and investment opportunities,” said Nicholas Hyett at Hargreaves Lansdown.
“On those fronts, things continue to look pretty healthy. Operating cash is up 22.4% year-on-year, and technology and marketing expenses are attracting an increasing share of revenues.
“Amazon’s profit problem seems to stem from the fact growth is no longer creating the operating leverage it once did, and very unflattering profit projections for next quarter suggest that’s a problem which is here to stay for the time being at least,” he added.
The Dow Jones industrial average finished the day 129 points in the hole at 27,141 and the S&P 500 shed 16 points to finish at 3,004.
Asian markets this morning have also largely been on the run. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was down 127 points at 21,630 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 143 points lower at 28,451.
The group is reporting soon after receiving the green light for its massive acquisition of European cable assets from Liberty Global and not long after its dramatic dividend cut.
Swiss bank UBS expects the first quarter to see an improvement in Italy, weaker South Africa, Spain softer but close to bottoming out, while the UK and Germany see broadly si milar trends to the prior quarter.
Property website Rightmove PLC (LON:RMW) has been grappling with a slowdown in the housing market but is still expected to post stronger revenue for the first half.
UBS estimates revenue of GBP142mln for the first six months of the fiscal year 2019, up 8% on the previous year, with average revenue per agent up 8.8% to GBP1,073. The investment bank predicts a 9.7% rise in diluted earnings per share to 9.5p.
However, the number of advertisers are expected to fall by 1% to 20,252 as homeowners delay selling amid Brexit uncertainty.
Around the markets
Sterling: US$1.2444, -0.11 cents
10-year gilt: yielding 0.711%, down 3.01 basis points
Gold: US$1,415.30 an ounce, +0.60 cents
Brent crude: US$63.36 a barrel, up 10 cents
Bitcoin: US$9,728.83, down US$143.92
Cobham takeover doubts as biggest investor Silchester rebels: Cobham’s biggest shareholder told the board that the agreed offer is not good enough and it should think again.
Jaguar Land Rover’s woes deepen as sales fall and losses mount: Britain’s largest automotive group has plunged deeper into the red
Investors revolt over executive pay at De La Rue: De La Rue suffered a revolt yesterday, with almost half of voting shareholders rebelling over directors’ pay.
High street decline is worst for eight years: A survey by the CBI employers’ group found that retail sales fell for the third month running in July
US government to pay farmers hurt by China trade war US$16bn: As trade talks are set to resume after a two-month halt, an aid package will see producers paid up to $150 per acre
ECB signals it will move to boost growth amid fears of low inflation: Outgoing president says outlook is worsening and inflation is well below target
Nissan to axe 12,500 jobs worldwide but Sunderland appears safe: Firm refuses to say where cuts will fall but unions are hopeful for UK’s largest car plant
Facebook to pay $5bn fine as regulator settles Cambridge Analytica complaint: Penalty by US government reflects scale of breach, first reported by the Observer
Low-carbon energy makes majority of UK electricity for first time: Rapid rise in renewables combined with nuclear generated 53% in 2018
Cobham’s GBP4bn US private equity takeover faces scrutiny over national security fears
Mothercare poised to sell struggling UK stores
Billionaire Anil Agarwal to sell 20% stake in miner Anglo American
O2 chief signals readiness to invest in full fibre
ECB hints at September rate cut