Markets opened with small gains on Thursday morning as investors turned their focus away from another day of the US government shutdown and instead concentrated on a raft of economic data.
While the continuing budget impasse Stateside will lead to non-essential government agencies being shut for a third straight day, the FTSE 100 snapped a four-day losing streak this morning, bouncing off a one-month low after figures showed an improvement in services activity in China.
PMIs in focus
China's official non-manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose from 53.9 to a six-month high of 55.4 in September, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, strengthening the third-quarter outlook for the world's second-largest economy.
Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari said: "This is just another sign that the government's targeted stimulus efforts, which were announced a few months ago in order to combat the slowing growth in the economy and achieve its minimum 7% growth target, are having the desired effect on the economy." He said that growth this year is now likely to be in line with the government's initial target of 7.5%, easing concerns over a 'hard landing' for the Chinese economy.
Closer to home, there will be the final reading of the Eurozone services PMI for September which is expected to remain steady at 52.1, and the final estimate of the Eurozone composite PMI (services and manufacturing) which is also forecast to hold at 52.1. Similarly, the UK services PMI is predicted to remain at 60.5 in August.
Shutdown continues as budget talks prove "futile"
Over the in the States, the shutdown means that no data will be released by the government or its agencies, with jobless claims figures and Friday's highly-anticipated employment report now expected to be delayed. However, the ISM survey measuring activity in the services sector will still be on the agenda and is expected to fall from 58.6 to 57.
President Barack Obama last night met for face-to-face talks with Congress for the first time since the shutdown but both sides failed to come to an agreement over the budget. Financial Sales Trader Alex Conroy from Spreadex said that the meeting however "proved futile" with both sides unwilling to budge on positions held before the shutdown.
"This failure in bi-partisan politics could have wider implications than merely shutting down the US government," he said. The focus is now turning to the deadline of the debt ceiling on October 17th. If an agreement is not made to raise this limit, then the government will run out of the cash and will likely default on its debt obligations.
FTSE 100: easyJet, Aviva and BP provide a lift
easyJet jumped after raising its annual profit guidance on the back of strong demand in the second half. In a trading update ahead of its results for the year to the end of September 2013, the low-cost airline said it expects pre-tax profit of between £470m and £480m compared with the previous guidance of £450m to £480m.
Insurance group Aviva also gained after completing the sale of its US business for a higher amount than it first expected. It will receive proceeds of $2.6bn (£1.7bn) from the sale of its US life and annuities business to Bermuda-based Athene Holdings, around $0.8bn more than it had announced last December.
British oil major BP rose after saying it is "extremely pleased" with the decision by the US appeals court to halt some payments related to claims over the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010. BP had asked the courts for compensation assessment standards to be tightened to limit compensation settlements following the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Sports Direct International was heading the other way after its Chief Executive Dave Forsey and Finance Director Bob Mellors each netted £6.4m after selling shares
from a bonus plan.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 385.00p +2.94%
Aviva (AV.) 416.30p +2.16%
Unilever (ULVR) 2,351.00p +1.38%
Tesco (TSCO) 362.90p +1.37%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,331.00p +1.29%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 119.60p +1.18%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,055.00p +1.15%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 389.70p +1.14%
BP (BP.) 437.15p +1.12%
Shire Plc (SHP) 2,473.00p +1.10%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Sports Direct International (SPD) 696.00p -1.76%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,332.00p -1.46%
Fresnillo (FRES) 924.50p -1.12%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,451.00p -1.02%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 698.50p -0.92%
SABMiller (SAB) 3,008.50p -0.89%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,093.00p -0.82%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,082.00p -0.73%
BG Group (BG.) 1,174.50p -0.72%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 818.50p -0.67%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Alent (ALNT) 362.50p +2.55%
CSR (CSR) 534.00p +1.91%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 152.20p +1.81%
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 154.50p +1.64%
BTG (BTG) 386.50p +1.58%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 122.10p +1.33%
UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company (UDG) 319.20p +1.30%
Rightmove (RMV) 2,368.00p +1.28%
Afren (AFR) 138.50p +1.24%
Premier Farnell (PFL) 220.50p +1.24%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Unite Group (UTG) 375.90p -3.17%
Ophir Energy (OPHR) 312.90p -1.73%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 257.80p -1.60%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 116.50p -1.60%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 818.00p -1.45%
Betfair Group (BET) 986.50p -1.35%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,076.00p -1.28%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 44.14p -1.25%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 157.10p -1.13%
Redrow (RDW) 237.00p -1.04%