The Tory PR train carries on with yet another attempt at trying to “brand” themselves as the party that’ll change everything for the better.  The choice of Battersea Power station to stage their manifesto launch was an interesting one, but one that hardly inspires a new and exciting government in waiting.  Yesterday was the Tory’s big opportunity to announce their stance on the big issues that are facing people, and whilst their manifesto had lots of policies, it seemed to be somewhat lacking in the important pledges on government deficits and tax rises.  The polls continue to indicate a hung parliament and it seems extraordinary that the Tories aren’t opening up a 20-point lead after all that Labour has done.  People seem to forget too easily what happened two years ago and that certainly looks to be the case for many younger voters.

So today it’s the chance for David Cameron’s little brother to take to the stage and announce their plans for wooing voters.  Then tomorrow we’ll see a first for British politics, with the first live TV debate of three between the three leaders.  Never before has so much attention been given to a Liberal Democrat leader; this is their best opportunity to eat into the Labour and Tory shares of the vote.  However, it also rather depends on how many people actually watch the debate!

The FTSE is bouncing today, after a strong finish from US indices last night and some good news from Intel after the markets closed.  The US earnings season is under way and investors will be keen to see whether the tremendous gains made since March last year can be sustained.  The market will be looking for signs of revenue increase as opposed to greater profits from cost base reduction.  From a technical point of view, the S&P is still yet to trade above the 1200 level, which is seen as quite a resistance area and certainly clients continue to sell into strength, expecting a move to the downside soon.  Near-term support for the S&P is 1185, but over the medium-term, 1150 is key for the bulls.  For the FTSE, 5800 is near-term resistance, and bulls will be eying up 5950 and then the magic 6000 level.

Economic data out today is US-centric, with CPI numbers and retail sales at 13h30, both expected to rise and then the Beige Book later in the evening.  With recent reports on manufacturing and retail sales showing signs of improvement, this Beige Book should continue to be broadly upbeat.

Intel’s results last night has caused for a little risk-appetite to creep back into the market place, and as a result the Yen and dollar have suffered.  The dollar remains relatively weak as cable; the euro and yen have just taken a bit back from the greenback in recent days.  The move back above 1.3600 over the weekend for EUR/USD has opened up the way for 1.3700, but the last couple of days have seen a largely sideways move for the euro.  Further gains will come up against strong resistance around 1.3800 and then 1.4000, but we could see these levels again soon after a double bottom, that seems to have formed recently around the 1.3300 area.  On top of this, EUR/USD has broken above the upper downward trend line, which was around 1.3500.

Gold looked to have topped out a little, after being dragged down to the 1145 region, but has bounced nicely off there back towards 1160 this morning.  Chinese Yuan revaluation chatter has supported the precious metal and if the currency is strengthened, then gold will see further support from Chinese investors.  All the stock arguments for higher gold prices hit the wires yesterday, with Chinese inflation worries and increased demand for the metal from the countries ever increasing wealthy middle class.

Whilst oil has come off its highs recently, yesterday’s price action form a “hammer” candlestick in the daily chart, which has been followed by today’s rally.  This is a bullish move, and further dollar weakness and risk appetite will continue to make oil look attractive to investors.