- Flat start expected on FTSE
- US data disappoints
- Focus to be on UK GDP revision, German consumer confidence
UK stocks are set for a broadly flat start this morning as investors digest a slight decline in the US and a mixed finish in Asia overnight, ahead of an announcement due out on UK gross domestic product (GDP).
City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open just two points lower than yesterday's close of 6,830.50.
German consumer confidence was released this morning, registering an unexpected lift to its highest level since January 2007.
The GfK March survey showed German consumer confidence rose to 8.5 points from the prior revised 8.3, surprising the consensus that had expected no changes to February's initial reading of 8.2.
After a turbulent session, US stocks finished yesterday in the red, hit by downbeat data released on both home prices and consumer confidence.
The Conference Board's consumer confidence index for February slipped to a reading of 78.1 from 79.4 the month before, while house prices in the 20 main US cities increased at a slower pace in December, albeit more quickly than had been foreseen. The S&P/Case-Schiller Index climbed 13.4% from a year earlier, having risen 13.71% in November.
"Choppy sessions in both the US and Asia overnight has left European futures lacking any real direction on Wednesday," Alpari Market Analyst Craig Erlam commented.
Regarding the data released from the States, he added: "The chances are that both of these were negatively impacted by the unusually poor weather in recent months, but I get the feeling that people are becoming tired of this excuse and want to see some actual evidence that this is just a blip and not something to worry about."
Turning back to today's session, an announcement is due out on fourth quarter UK economic growth from the Office for National Statistics, which is expected to confirm a quarter-on-quarter rise of 0.7%.
The report follows the preliminary estimates for GDP, which also showed year-on-year growth of 2.8% in the fourth quarter.
This afternoon will see the release of new home sale figures in the US, in what will otherwise be a quiet session Stateside.
ITV raises divi, announces special pay-out
In this morning's company announcements, ITV raised its full-year dividend by 35% to 3.5p per share as it reported a rise in revenues and profit. The owner of the UK TV station also announced a special dividend of 4p per share, amounting to £161m, for the year through December 2013, in line with 2012.
Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey said the UK housing market was showing "significant recovery" for the first time in five years as it increased annual operating profits by 39% to £312.9m.
Centamin announced that its stake in Ampella Mining, via its wholly-owned subsidiary, Centamin West Africa Holdings, totalled 51.14%, giving it the right to take effective control of Ampella's operations. It also gained the right to appoint a majority of the directors to the board of Ampella, and as such has requested that a number of directors resign and has nominated replacements.