The FTSE was looking to commence proceedings to the upside this morning after a decent show from Asian markets (at least those that are open during the Japanese bank holidays), but despite us calling the FTSE up around the 5165 mark at 6am, we’ve started the day very flat.
Yesterday’s rally was halted abruptly as resistance around the 5190-5200 area remained firm and this area is the next hurdle for the market to compete with. A raft of European figures this morning, including minutes from the Bank of England’s decision to keep QE and rates on hold, have commenced poorly with French consumer spending showing a surprise fall of -1.0% when a rise was expected. This could be the first indication that auto sales are starting to grind to a halt after the “cash for clunkers” schemes that have been run across the globe.
At least the PMI surveys that are being released are still above the 50.0 mark suggesting expansion and already the French PMI has come in better than expected posting 52.5 and 52.2 for manufacturing and services respectively.
Although investors have a trickle of economic data to digest we’re not expecting many fireworks until later this evening when the focus will turn to the FOMC rate decision later at 19h15 London time. Once again investors will listen to what is said rather than what is done as the rate is expected to remain at 0-0.25%. The language from the last meeting focused very much on the economy starting to level out and since the economic data has largely beaten expectations in recent weeks, there may well be a shift in sentiment and mention of the word recovery. But the Feb won’t want to give out the wrong message, so they’ll most likely reiterate that the rate will remain at this level for an “extended period” – keys words in the game of interpreting whether the Fed believes in a “V” or a “W”.
There’s a bit to focus on from a corporate viewpoint too with builders Redrow and Barratt confirming rights issues to go someway to repair their highly debt laden balance sheets. This has been well received by the market and it’s strange to think that 18 months ago a rights issue was considered to be the be all and end all, whereas now investors are lapping them up.
Game Group have seen a sharp decline in profits from a year before when they were benefiting from “the new going out is staying in” syndrome, but also a lack of new game releases has hampered them. Any further decline in their share price might attract buyers ahead of Q4 when retailers tend to do well in the run up to Christmas (hard to believe I’m mentioning Christmas now!), but one gets the feeling that they need some exciting new games releases to help attract people into their shops.
Currency and commodity markets have been largely flat overnight and this morning. There really is a feeling that they are waiting for something big later on tonight when the FOMC decision is announced. In the meantime the dollar remains unfavoured and it continues to test the lows against the yen around the 90 mark, although it’s at 90.98 at the time of writing. Any bullish comments from the Fed could be just the catalyst the dollar needs to reverse its recent downward trend, but it still looks woeful and a big move in favour of the dollar is required before we can start saying the dollar’s demise is over.