- FTSE to fall 10 points at opening bell
- Focus on BoE and Fed minutes
- Jobless claims expected to hold at 7.1 per cent
The FTSE is set to open slightly lower today following yesterday's strong finish, a mixed picture in both the US and Asia overnight, and ahead of the release of minutes from the most recent Bank of England (BoE) and Fed meetings.
City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open 10 points below yesterday's close of 6,796.43, when it registered a gain of 60 points.
Today the BoE is expected to shed further light behind the central bank's decision to keep its policy on hold earlier this month, when it kept interest rates at the record low of 0.5% and asset purchases at £375bn.
The central bank had vowed to maintain its benchmark rate at least until unemployment falls to 7%, but a faster than expected pick-up in the labour market prompted the BoE to change its forward guidance to encompass various factors.
Also being released today is the jobless rate for the three months to December, which is expected to hold at 7.1%. According to economists' forecasts, figures will likely show that UK employers added 350,000 jobs during the period, up from 280,00 in the prior three months.
Jobless claims are tipped to fall by 20,000 in January, compared to a drop of 24,000 in December.
Attention to turn to Federal Reserve minutes later on
Over in the US, the Federal Open Market Committee interest rate minutes are set to offer more information on the Fed's decision made last month to scale back monthly bond purchases for the second time by $10bn to $65bn. Traders will also be hoping for some indication on its next policy move.
Also in the US today will be reports including MBA mortgage applications for the week to February 14th and US housing starts for January. Several Fed speakers are also scheduled to take to the podium.
Sports Direct reports rise in sales
Sports Direct International said group sales rose 11.2% to £655.4m in the 13 weeks to January 26th. Gross profit gained 14.6% to £280.7m during the period with growth across all its divisions including Sports Retail, Brands and Premium Lifestyle.
Ultra Electronics has acquired 3 Phoenix (3Pi), a supplier of specialist sonar, radar, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance products for an initial $70m. 3Pi was bought from its management team, which will stay with the business. Ultra said the it expected that the full accretion of earnings from 3Pi will occur during 2015.
Telecoms services and satellite group Avanti Communications has won a three-year contract with Vodafone. Avanti, which has a market capitalisation of around £230m, said on Wednesday that it has signed an agreement to supply 3G IP backhaul services in Europe to the telecoms heavyweight.