(Alliance News) - London's FTSE 100 is called to open higher on Thursday, despite a drab day for New York stocks, which saw tech shares suffers.

IG says futures indicate the FTSE 100 to open 29.7 points higher, 0.4%, at 7,877.69 on Thursday. The index of London large-caps closed up 27.63 points, 0.4%, at 7,847.99 on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 0.1% in New York on Wednesday. The S&P 500 fell 0.6%, while the Nasdaq Composite slumped 1.2%.

Stocks in Asia were higher. The Nikkei 225 was up 0.2% in late dealings in Tokyo. In China, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.2%, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong shot up 0.9%. The S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.5%.

Against the dollar, sterling rose to USD1.2468 early Thursday, from USD1.2447 late Wednesday. The euro was up USD1.0680, from USD1.0637. Against the yen, the buck bought JPY154.28 down from JPY154.67.

"The euro currently has little to stand up against the dollar. Actually, only a big surprise from the ECB that it will not cut the key interest rate in June could give the euro a good boost, but at its last meeting, the head of the central bank, Christine Lagarde, was already quite clear about June," Commerzbank analyst Antje Praefcke commented.

"At the same time, however, the market has already gone far in its expectations for key interest rates in the US. So even if the Fed adjusts its forecasts upwards next time - i.e. at the June meeting - the dollar is unlikely to draw much new upward potential from this. Especially as the FOMC members will continue to sound hawkish until then, should they really be considering a postponement of the first rate cut, and are likely to hint at this at the May meeting, so that an adjustment of the dots in June will not require a reassessment of the market."

Praefcke continued: "I would therefore expect that with continued hawkish statements from FOMC members and continued firm inflation figures, the dollar will gradually continue to rise, and it will depend above all on how far into the future the Fed ultimately postpones a first rate cut."

Economic activity expanded slightly since late February, while price rises were modest, according to the Federal Reserve's Beige Book.

The Beige Book is a Federal Reserve System publication about current economic conditions across the 12 Federal Reserve Districts, published eight times a year.

Ten out of twelve Districts experienced either slight or modest economic growth, from eight in the previous report, while the other two reported no changes in activity.

Consumer spending barely increased, although reports were mixed across Districts and spending categories. Some weakness in discretionary spending was highlighted, as consumers' price sensitivity remained elevated.

Wages grew at a moderate pace in eight Districts, and modestly in the remaining four, with annual wage growth rates returning to their historical averages.

Price increases were modest, running at about the same pace as in the last report.

A barrel of Brent oil slumped to USD87.53 early Thursday from USD88.68 late Wednesday. Gold traded at USD2,374.74 an ounce, down from USD2,383.47.

On Thursday's corporate calendar, pest control and hygiene firm Rentokil and property investor Segro report trading statements.

The economic calendar has a eurozone construction output reading at 1000 BST.

By Eric Cunha, Alliance News news editor

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