- Asia stocks slump as Japanese, Chinese disappoint
- BCC ups economic growth forecasts
UK stocks will start the day in the red, dragged lower by the performance in Asia overnight, hit by both Chinese and Japanese data.
City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open 21 points lower than Friday's close of 6,712.67.
China reported an unexpected trade deficit for February after exports slumped 18.1%, fuelling concerns that the world's second-largest economy is suffering a serious slowdown. However, Capital Economics believes that the drop largely reflects seasonal factors such as the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, during which many factories remained shut. Imports grew by a slightly stronger than forecast 10.1% during the same month. Be that as it may, the Shanghai stock exchange´s composite index was nearly 2.86% lower to 1,999.07 at 07:30.
In Japan, the current account deficit hit a record 1.5trn yen (around £8.7bn) in January, which comes ahead of a planned tax increase on sales next month - a move that had been expected to prompt higher spending in the lead up to it.
Meanwhile, the country's economic growth slowed to 0.7% in 2013, below estimates of 1%.
BCC predicts Q2 growth to exceed early-2008 levels
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has forecast an increase in the size of the UK economy that will take it above the levels seen in early 2008.
It predicted economic growth for the year would be 2.8%, 0.1% higher than its previous estimate.
In this morning's company announcements, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) revealed it has increased its stake in its pharmaceuticals subsidiary in India from 50.7% to 75% following an open offer. The group said the move would increase its exposure to a "strategically important market" and was a "significant vote of confidence in the future growth prospects" of the business.
Manufacturing group Senior confirmed that it has entered into an agreement to buy Malaysian based UPECA Technologies for £75.5m in cash. The acquisition of UPECA Technologies, which provides manufacturing services for high precision metal machining, is expected to complete towards the end of March.
Fruit supplier Fyffes served up sweeter annual profits and revenue, but said it was facing rising costs.
APC Technology said it expects half-year sales to be 30% ahead of the prior year after the computer manufacturer took on new major customers. Sales in the first half of 2014 is anticipated to come in at £12.1m, up from £9.2m a year earlier. Pre-tax profit is projected to be £700,000, compared to £47,000 in 2012.
Meanwhile, buy shares
when Scholium, the rare book dealer, floats on the stock market, Midas advised in the Mail on Sunday. The business, owned by former Blackwell Publishing director Philip Blackwell, is selling shares at 100p each to raise £10m to buy more stock and to hold cash in reserve for when prized collections come to the market.
The money will also be used to develop Scholium's art bookshop and high-end library-compiling business. Demand is growing from rich foreign buyers. Pre-tax profits are expected to more than double in coming year and a dividend is planned from 2015.