FTSE 100 preview: Index seen lower after lacklustre leads

Lloyds in focus amid pending competition probe over MBNA deal

FTSE 100 preview: Index seen lower after lacklustre leads

The UK benchmark index looks set to start the last trading day of the week on the back foot, following downbeat leads from the US and Asia. Lloyds Banking Group (LON:LLOY) will be in focus today, with the group’s purchase of credit card provider MBNA facing a competition investigation.

IG’s opening calls suggest that the FTSE 100 will start the session 10 points lower at 7,406. US stocks closed mostly lower last night, pressured by the healthcare sector, after President Donald Trump proposed cutting the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) spending.

“The proposed cut in the NIH budget is pretty significant and I don’t know if it will happen,” said Paul Yook, portfolio manager at BioShares Funds, as quoted by CNBC. Asian shares have been mixed this morning, following the downbeat US lead.

At home, the Footsie added 47.31 points to close 0.64 percent higher at 7,415.95 yesterday, following the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise rates. Anglo American (LON:AAL) was the biggest blue-chip riser, closing 8.62 percent higher at 1,297.50p, after it emerged that the Indian billionaire behind Vedanta Resources was set to spend up to £2 billion to build up a stake in the blue-chip miner.

Today’s macroeconomic releases include the eurozone trade balance for January, due out at 10:00 GMT. In the US, the preliminary Michigan consumer confidence index for March is scheduled to be released at 14:00 GMT.

There are no blue-chip companies scheduled to update investors on their performance this morning. In other news, the UK competition watchdog said that it is investigating the anticipated acquisition of MBNA by Lloyds. The Times meanwhile reported that BP is in talks to sell the North Sea’s biggest pipeline to Ineos, the petrochemicals giant run by Jim Ratcliffe.

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