The City is set for an upbeat start today, with stocks tracking gains seen in the US last night ahead of a busy day of economic data and following yesterday's close above the psychologically important level of 6,700.
City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open around 18 points above yesterday's close of 6,700.16.
The rise also comes ahead of what is widely expected to be strong first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 0.9%, which would mark the highest rate in nearly four years. GDP in the fourth quarter of 2013 grew 0.7%.
Markets higher after late rebound despite Russia tensions
Rising tensions between Russia and the West resulted in a volatile session for US markets yesterday, though a late rebound managed to push stocks broadly higher by the close.
Markets were also lacking direction ahead of the Federal Reserve policy meeting tomorrow, US ISM manufacturing data on Thursday and the all-important non-farm payrolls figures on Friday.
Busy day for economic data
UK GDP is due for release at 09:30 and has the potential to boost the GBP/USD towards the $1.7000 level. US CB Consumer Confidence is due for release this afternoon and is widely expected to come in at 82.9.
Samuel Fox at SpreadEx noted: "With a day full of important economic data, markets could be particularly volatile over the announcement of the figures today. Asian markets traded cautiously throughout the night as investors await key pieces of data and events over the next few days.
"[...] Investors will be cautious going into tomorrow's trading session as the economic calendar is packed full of high importance figures and events, most notably the FOMC (US Federal Reserve) statement which begins at 19:00 BST tomorrow."
German CPI data for April, ahead of tomorrow's Eurozone-wide release, will also be scrutinised. Traders are also waiting on the results of a confidence vote in the French parliament on the recently proposed economic reforms.
British Land disposes of two retail parks
In this morning's UK-listed company news, property giant British Land announced it has sold two of its retail parks in Scotland and Wales for a total of £78m. British Land's Head of Retail Charles Maudsley said: "These sales are in line with our strategy to further focus our retail portfolio on high quality, locally preferred shopping destinations."
FTSE-250 support services firm Serco has issued a fresh profit warning and indicated it may have to raise capital through a share placing just days before new Chief Executive Rupert Soames takes up his role. The embattled outsourcing firm, which operates prisons and welfare to work programmes for the UK government, issued a statement after the London Stock Exchange close on Monday that said trading has been more challenging than expected.
Bodycote this morning reported that group revenue in the first quarter was 2.2% lower year-on-year at actual exchange rates, as previously anticipated. The company said that looking ahead to the rest of the year it still expects its growth initiatives to deliver further progress in 2014.
Over in Germany, profits at banking giant Deutsche Bank dropped by over a third in the first quarter, but still managed to come in ahead of analysts' estimates.
Net income fell 34% to €1.08bn in the first three months of 2014, down from €1.65bn the year before, but better than the consensus forecast of around €1bn. Net revenues were down 11% at €8.4bn, mainly owing to weakness from the Corporate Banking & Securities division.