The City is set to edge higher early on, tracking gains in the US last night which came after the much anticipated statement from the Federal Reserve, which held steady on its policy course with a few breezily positive remarks leading to a positive finish Stateside.
Sources predict the FTSE 100 will open around 10 points higher than yesterday's close of 6,780.03.
As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee yesterday revealed it continued to taper its monthly asset purchases with another $10bn increment, despite data out earlier in the day showing near-stagnation in first-quarter gross domestic product growth.
Meanwhile, activity in the Chinese manufacturing sector picked up a little in April, but came in slightly lower than analysts' expectations.
The government's manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) increased to 50.4 last month from 50.3 in March, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The consensus forecast, however, was for a bigger rise to 50.5. Any figure above 50 denotes growth.
Nevertheless, as analysts at Rabobank pointed out, the official PMI "still remains in far more optimistic territory than the HSBC/Markit measure (which captures more small firms)".
In UK-listed company news, embattled government outsourcing group Serco announced late last night that it planned to raise around £170m to strengthen its balance sheet. Its year-to-date performance has been weaker than expected, with the company forced to warn on full-year profits on Monday and now said that adjusted operating profit in 2014 would be not less than £170m, down from guidance £220-250m just seven weeks ago. The group also received the resignation of its long-standing Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Andrew Jenner, who has been in the role since 2002. He will remain as CFO until a successor is appointed.
This morning, fund manager Schroders reported record assets under management (AuM) in the first quarter, helped by nearly four billion pounds of net new business wins during the period. Chief Executive Michael Dobson said that "2014 has started well for Schroders" with £3.8bn of net inflows across multi-asset, equities and fixed income, taking AuM to an all-time high of £268bn as of March 31st.
Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline announced that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved its Incruse medication known as Ellipta as an anticholinergic used as long-term, once-daily, maintenance treatment of airflow obstruction in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema. The drug, which is administered via an inhaler, is expected to be launched in the US in the final quarter of this year.
Engineering group Weir said trading in the last four months has been in line with expectations, helped by a strong performance in the oil and gas and power and industrial divisions, as it sticks to its full-year targets. The FTSE-100 group reiterated that that it expects good constant currency revenue and profit growth with margins broadly in line with 2013 levels, however reported results will be hurt by adverse foreign currency movements.
Earnings fell 2.4% at BSkyB despite a rise in revenues as high levels of investment in connected television services continued.