- FTSE to open 14 points higher
- Focus on BoE meeting with Treasury Committee
- Feb UK retail sales reveal decline
The City is set for a positive start today, with the anticipated gains driven by a more stable session in Asia overnight and a ahead of today's Bank of England (BoE) meeting with the government's Treasury Committee.
Spread-betters predict the FTSE 100 will open 14 points higher than yesterday's close of 6,689.45.
Yesterday saw stock markets in Asia decline sharply after Chinese exports unexpectedly plunged in February, sparking concern about a slowdown in global demand for goods. Data from the General Administration of Customs that revealed China's exports tumbled by 18.1% in February from the same time a year earlier, far more than was expected by even the most bearish economists.
Alpari Research Analyst, Joshua Mahony, said: "Yesterday's mixed bag which saw a strong sell-off in Asia, followed by a surprisingly strong European session shows that the two have been largely focusing upon regional issues and seeking direction from events closer to home.
"The disappointing Chinese exports data seen yesterday was so significant that it could have sparked a more protracted sell-off, in particular within the emerging markets. Yet the more moderate losses seen today within the likes of the Indian Nifty and Shanghai composite show a potential easing in such selling pressures following a notable pullback yesterday."
Meanwhile, US stocks finished Monday's session in the red, but managed to claw back losses made early on as investors digested the weak economic data from China and comments from a member of the Federal Reserve.
Charles Plosser from the Philadelphia Fed said that the central bank may have to pick up the pace of tapering in light of an "improving economy".
Speaking in Paris, he said: "Reducing the pace of asset purchases in measured steps is moving in the right direction, but the pace may leave us well behind the curve if the economy continues to play out according to the FOMC forecasts."
UK retail sales shift into reverse gear in February
British retail sales went into reverse last month, casting fresh doubt over UK consumers' ability to keep driving the economic recovery.
Like-for-like sales in February fell 1% versus the same month a year ago, when they rose 2.7%, according to monthly figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and accountants KPMG.
Total sales rose 0.7% against a 4.4% increase in February last year and online non-food sales rose 14.3%.
Other data releases due out today include UK industrial and manufacturing production, UK gross domestic product estimates and the German trade balance.
Mahony added: "The other key debate to watch out for today is the challenge to whether Mark Carney will alter the governance currently in place within the bank, following the recent foreign exchange
scandal which saw BoE staff possibly ignore manipulation in the rates of FX traders.
"This could have longer lasting implications, yet I do not see anything substantial coming out of this in the short term given that Carney will likely refrain from making any firm pledges on the topic."
In this morning's company news, Inchcape delivered record annual results as the car dealership enjoyed demand for luxury vehicles. The company reported a pre-exceptional pre-tax profit of £274.6m in the year through December 2013, up 11.2% on the prior year, as sales jumped 7.7% to £6.5bn.
FTSE 250-listed specialist financial services group Close Brothers posted a solid set of half-year figures following good growth across all of its divisions. The group said it continues to see good opportunities for growth in its niche markets and underlined its confidence in future trading with a 10% hike in its dividend payment.
Fenner, the FTSE 250 company which makes industrial belting and other polymeric materials, said that despite a lower first half than last year, it expects to see growth over the full year. As previously indicated, results for the six months ended February 28th will be down year-on-year due to tough comparatives owing to very strong trading in Australia the year before. However, Fenner said today that: "The board anticipates that, in constant currency terms, the outcome for the year as a whole will show modest growth compared with the previous year."
Online insurer Esure posted higher profits and its maiden dividend since it listed on the stock market last year.