(Alliance News) - The FTSE 100 was set to open in the green on Wednesday, despite further bad news out of the world's second-largest economy and ahead of a flash inflation reading from the EU.
Michael Hewson at CMC Markets said the consumer price index print should "set the scene as to whether we get 50 [basis points] or 75bps when the [European Central Bank] meets in just over two weeks' time."
China's factory activity shrank for a second straight month in November, official data showed, as large swathes of the country were hit by Covid-19 lockdowns and transport disruptions.
The purchasing managers' index came in at 48.0 points, down from October's 49.2 and well below the 50-point mark separating growth from contraction, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
Meanwhile, in the US, retailers cheered a buoyant start to the holiday shopping season Tuesday, but warned that a potential freight rail strike could still cripple the critically busy period.
The NRF's survey estimated that 196.7 million Americans shopped in stores in the five-day stretch between last Thursday's Thanksgiving and "Cyber Monday," spending an average of USD325.44 on holiday-related purchases.
In the UK, the governor of the Bank of England said that the lack of communication from the Treasury ahead of September's mini budget made it an "extraordinary" and "abnormal" process.
In particular, the absence of the usual economic forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility made it difficult for the central bank to prepare accordingly, Andrew Bailey stressed.
Here is what you need to know ahead of the London market open:
FTSE 100: called up 40.10 points, or 0.5%, at 7,552.10
Hang Seng: up 1.9% at 18,573.23
Nikkei 225: closed down 0.2% at 27,968.99
S&P/ASX 200: closed up 0.4% at 7,284.20
DJIA: closed up 3.07 points at 33,852.53
S&P 500: closed down 6.31 points, 0.2%, at 3,957.63
Nasdaq Composite: closed down 65.72 points, 0.6%, at 10,983.78
EUR: higher at USD1.0351 (USD1.0340)
GBP: lower at USD1.1963 (USD1.1982)
USD: higher at JPY138.54 (JPY138.38)
Gold: higher at USD1,754.90 per ounce (USD1,753.25)
Oil (Brent): lower at USD84.57 a barrel (USD85.06)
(changes since previous London equities close)
Wednesday's key economic events still to come:
ECB Governing Council non-monetary policy meeting
11:00 CET EU flash CPI
09:55 CET Germany labour market statistics
11:00 GMT Ireland unemployment
08:15 GMT UK BoE Chief Economist Huw Pill speaks
07:00 EST US MBA mortgage applications survey
08:15 EST US ADP national employment report
08:30 EST US advance economic indicators report
10:00 EST US job openings
13:30 EST US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaks
Food inflation in the UK has surged to 12% to hit a new record amid predictions of dampened Christmas cheer and an "increasingly bleak" winter. Overall shop prices are now 7.4% higher than last November, up from 6.6% in October, to set another record since the British Retail Consortium records began in 2005. But food inflation accelerated considerably further to 12.4% from October's 11.6% also the highest rate on record as rocketing energy, animal feed and transport costs forced up prices. The BRC-Nielsen IQ shop price index shows fresh food inflation rose even higher to 14%, up from 13% last month, driven particularly by the cost of meat, eggs and dairy.
Fresh clashes have broken out between police and protesters in a southern Chinese city, part of a wave of Covid lockdown-sparked demonstrations across the country that have morphed into demands for political freedoms. China's top security body warned late on Tuesday night that authorities would "crack down" on the protests, which are the most widespread since pro-democracy rallies in 1989 that were crushed with deadly force. The protests erupted over the weekend across major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, with China's vast security apparatus moving swiftly to smother any further unrest. But new clashes broke out in China's southern city of Guangzhou on Tuesday night and into Wednesday, according to witnesses and social media footage verified by AFP.
French President Emmanuel Macron was set to meet US President Joe Biden on Wednesday, at the start of a state visit highlighting the two countries' strategic ties but also fears of a transatlantic trade war. Largely due to Covid disruptions, this is the first formal state visit to the White House during the Biden presidency. US officials said the choice of France for the honor reflects their historic links and also the crucial role played by Paris, within the EU, in the alliance confronting Russia over Ukraine. But tensions are rising over trade as Europeans nervously watch the rollout of Biden's signature green industry policy the Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA. This is set to pump billions of dollars into climate-friendly technologies, with strong backing for American-made products. A similar effort is being put into microchip manufacturing. Europeans fear an unfair US advantage in the sectors just as they are reeling from the economic consequences of the Ukraine war and Western attempts to end reliance on Russian energy supplies.
The persistently high inflation in the eurozone is a cause for concern for former European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet. "I am concerned. It is imperative to regain control of inflation," Trichet told dpa in Frankfurt. "We have experienced a period where we lost control on [sic] inflation, which was in the 1970s. We know the cost of losing control of inflation. We have to avoid that." With its recent decisions, the European Central Bank, of which Trichet was president from 2003 to 2011, has set the right course, according to Trichet. The ECB has done what should be done, and in my opinion they will continue to do what is needed," he said. He added that he is confident the eurozone will be back to "its definition of price stability, around 2%, in three years time."
BROKER RATING CHANGES
Barclays starts Rolls-Royce with 'overweight' - price target 110 pence
Barclays raises NewRiver REIT to 'overweight' ('equal-weight') - price target 90 (85) pence
HSBC raises easyJet price target to 440 (380) pence - 'hold'
COMPANIES - FTSE 100
UK Ofgem confirmed a five-year investment package for the electricity distribution network companies to help deliver "cheaper, cleaner, more reliable local grids". Listed utilities SSE and National Grid noted Ofgem's final determination on the RIIO-ED2 electricity distribution price control, which will run from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2028. Both firms said they will now review the decision. Ofgem explained that networks will be expected to provide "more benefits" by lowering returns to investors and driving more efficiencies within their companies. It also aims to move away from the import of fossil fuels to the UK. National Grid said it will make its decision on whether to accept or appeal the licence by February 2023. SSE said its assessment will "run into next year".
Anglo American announced that its technical director, Tony O'Neill, has decided to retire. The miner said O'Neill will step down from his role at the end of 2022. Following O'Neill's departure, the role will be divided into two to "facilitate the next phase of prioritisation for Anglo American's technical disciplines to best support business performance", the company explained. Matt Daley will become group technical director. Anglo added that the process to appoint group projects & development director is "well advanced".
Pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca announced the sale of its West Chester site in the US state of Ohio to technology-focused manufacturing firm National Resilience. No financial details of the sale were given. AstraZeneca said it expects to complete the sale in the first quarter of 2023, with a phased transition of services. Andrew Wirths, senior vice president of the Americas Supply Region at AstraZeneca, said the sale is part of the company's "long-term strategy to ensure our global supply network remains fit for the future."
COMPANIES - FTSE 250
Magazine publisher Future reported "record" profitability in the financial year that ended September 30, thanks to continued organic revenue growth and the contribution from acquisition. Future reported pretax profit of GBP170.0 million, up 58% from GBP107.8 million the previous year, while revenue jumped 36% to GBP825.4 million from GBP606.8 million. Looking ahead, Future said it has entered its newest financial year in a "strong competitive position" and expects to deliver "modest profit growth" in the year. Chief Executive Zillah Byng-Thorne said: "Whilst we are monitoring the macroeconomic climate, we remain confident in our strategy and the growth opportunities that we are uniquely placed to capitalise on, which we expect to deliver modest profit growth and market share gains." Future declared a final dividend of 3.4 pence, which is the total dividend for the year, as no interim dividend was paid. The financial 2022 payout is up from 2.8p in financial 2021.
Impax Asset Management reported a pretax profit of GBP72.6 million in the financial year that ended September 30, up sharply from GBP45.7 million. The profit figure included a foreign exchange gain of GBP6.4 million, Impax explained, compared to a GBP900,000 loss the year prior. Revenue jumped to GBP175.4 million from GBP143.1 million, driven by "positive net inflow across the business". Impax's assets under management fell to GBP35.7 billion at September 30 from GBP37.2 billion at the same time a year prior. However, as of October 31, Impax's AuM had recovered to GBP37.4 billion. The specialist asset manager recommended a final dividend of 22.9 pence.
By Heather Rydings; firstname.lastname@example.org
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