- Focus on RBS results
- Modest gains in both US and Asia
- Heavy corporate results calendar
The FTSE is set to begin today's session slightly lower ahead of what is expected to be a busy few hours of releases and company results.
City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open six points lower than yesterday's close of 6,799.15.
Alpari UK Market Analyst, Craig Erlam, noted the flat session in both the US and Asia, saying "investors appear to be lacking that little bit of risk appetite that would propel the S&P and the Dow to new record highs".
He continued: "The rally in recent weeks appears to reflect the belief that the economic cycle is going to improve and the outlook is actually much better than some of the more pessimistic people out there are making out. That said, there's only so high markets can go on this belief before investors are going to demand evidence and it appears that level is the record highs set at the end of 2013."
Investors are also gearing up for a particularly busy session today, which will see the release of US durable goods and initial jobless claims, Eurozone, consumer confidence figures, German unemployment, as well as a testimonial from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on monetary policy and the economy.
Yellen has indicated that the Fed will probably continue to scale back monthly asset purchases at each policy meeting until ending it all together later this year. The move has prompted concerns that it might hurt growth in emerging markets.
Today's testimony, which had been delayed due to bad weather, might provide further clues as to the Fed's next step ahead of its March policy.
Spanish GDP to show improved growth
The fourth quarter figure for Spanish gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to come in at 0.3%, while figures will also be released on February French consumer confidence and German inflation.
"All of these individually will rarely have much of an impact on the markets but collectively could be key in determining risk appetite," Erlam said.
Meanwhile, February German jobless numbers are expected to show a decline of 10,000. Unemployment is forecast to come in at 6.8%, on par with the figure seen in December.
RBS losses widen as costs hit by restructuring and fine payments
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) posted its biggest annual loss since the height of the 2008 financial crisis as the lender underwent a major restructuring and paid fines. The state-backed bank reported an operating loss before tax of £8.24bn for the year through December 2013, up from a loss of £5.27bn in 2012.
Barratt Developments said it completed the highest level of home deals in five years as it reported a 73% rise in operating profit to £139.5m.
On the second tier, UDG Healthcare has agreed to acquire the healthcare communications of KnowledgePoint360 for $144m. The deal, which is expected to complete by the end of March, was made to help establish the FTSE 250-listed group as a market leader in the global healthcare communications market. Broker Jefferies rated the stock a 'buy', saying "the deal, in our view, is yet further support of UDG's bolt-on acquisition strategy".