Markets opened broadly flat on Wednesday morning as investors refrained from building positions ahead of the conclusion of this month's all-important Federal Reserve policy meeting.
However, with an announcement from the US central bank not due out until after markets close this evening, there will be plenty of other economic indicators for traders to digest.
First up, the Bank of England (BoE) will this morning release the minutes of its latest policy meeting at which it left rates and stimulus measures on hold. Senior Market Analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets said that in light of recent economic data the minutes "could well see more divergence on members' views about the policy of forward guidance than was evident at previous meetings".
Elsewhere, investors will be focusing on Eurozone construction figures, as well as US building permits and housing starts.
The FTSE 100 was more or less unchanged this morning from last night's close of 6,570.17. The index hit a six-week high of 6,622.86 on Monday, its best close since August 2nd.
Markets await FOMC decision
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) comes to a close later this evening and will be one of the most closely-watched US policy decisions in recent years, given rising expectations that policymakers will begin to scale back quantitative easing.
The Fed is widely expected to start by tapering its monthly asset purchases by around $10-15bn from the current level of $85bn, with forecasts being pared slightly over the last month given recent mixed economic data as of late, including August's disappointing jobs report.
"A reduction around these levels has to some degree been priced in already whilst for long-term investors, it's irrelevant whether the taper comes in September or later since it's definitely coming by year's end," said Max Cohen, a Financial Sales Trader from Spreadex.
"Having said that, any delay in tapering could see stocks start to sell off with traders possibly fearing that the strength of the economy has not convinced policymakers. It is expected that a larger than forecast taper will also trigger a slide in shares," Cohen said.
Just as important will be the new set of macroeconomic projections which the monetary authority will provide. These may help to cement expectations that policy rates are to stay low for quite some time yet.
FTSE 100: Lloyds rebounds after heavy falls
Banking group Lloyds was among the best performers this morning. The stock was recovering after sinking sharply yesterday following the news that the government placed a 6% stake as it formally began the process of disposing its stake following the state bailout in 2008.
Sector peer Barclays was trading without the right to buy shares
in its £5.95bn rights issue. Shares were still trading above their theoretical ex-rights price (TERP) of 276.2p.
Engineering firm Smiths Group was higher after raising its full-year dividend by 4% and returning £118m to shareholders by way of a special dividend despite reporting a mixed set of annual results, with profits flat on last year.
Antofagasta, Melrose and Petrofac were all trading lower this morning after going ex-dividend, meaning that from today investors won't be able to get their hands on the companies' latest payouts.
Security solutions group G4S was in the red after Jefferies International trimmed its target price for the stock from 310p to 290p. While the broker maintained its 'buy' rating, it said: "The G4S equity recovery story is not as financially or operationally geared as we would like."
FTSE 250: Redrow jumps after strong full-year figures
British housebuilder Redrow revealed a stellar set of full-year results, after progress across the group, as it recommended the return of a final dividend. The FTSE 250-listed group said pre-tax profit surged 63% to £70m for the year to June 30th and adjusted earnings per share jumped 45% to 15.7p.
IG Group, Dunelm, Kier, Renishaw, Interserve, Computacenter and Ladbrokes were among the worst performers after going ex-dividend.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,423.00p +3.42%
Barclays (BARC) 280.70p +1.63%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,512.00p +1.24%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 964.50p +1.15%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,593.00p +0.82%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,097.00p +0.73%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,574.00p +0.64%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 696.90p +0.58%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,588.00p +0.54%
CRH (CRH) 1,484.00p +0.54%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 369.70p -2.84%
Compass Group (CPG) 836.00p -1.82%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 300.50p -1.09%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,117.00p -1.08%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 874.00p -0.91%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,137.00p -0.79%
G4S (GFS) 255.80p -0.78%
TUI Travel (TT.) 354.30p -0.78%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 1,876.00p -0.74%
Whitbread (WTB) 3,067.00p -0.71%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Redrow (RDW) 239.00p +3.55%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 395.70p +2.25%
United Drug (UDG) 335.00p +1.82%
Henderson Group (HGG) 190.00p +1.77%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,628.00p +1.69%
Cranswick (CWK) 1,171.00p +1.65%
Synthomer (SYNT) 239.60p +1.53%
BTG (BTG) 381.90p +1.30%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 121.00p +1.26%
Alent (ALNT) 376.90p +1.18%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 322.40p -3.39%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 584.50p -3.31%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 959.50p -3.08%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 197.50p -1.84%
Kier Group (KIE) 1,652.00p -1.84%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 615.00p -1.60%
Investec (INVP) 419.10p -1.57%
Computacenter (CCC) 533.50p -1.57%
Britvic (BVIC) 583.00p -1.52%
Fenner (FENR) 399.00p -1.48%