FTSE 100 preview: Muted start on the cards ahead of ECB rate decision

Aviva to post results amid dividend growth expectations

FTSE 100 preview: Muted start on the cards ahead of ECB rate decision

The UK benchmark index looks set to start the day little changed, as investors await the European Central Bank’s (ECB) rate decision. On the corporate front, Aviva (LON:AV) is set to post its full-year results this morning.

Index seen little changed

IG’s opening calls suggest that the FTSE 100 is set to start the day 0.01 percent higher at 7,158 points. Investors are likely to stay on the sidelines, ahead of the ECB monetary policy decision set to be unveiled later in the session.

“The focus in today’s ECB meeting will be whether the bank changes its forward guidance around QE [quantitative easing],” said Kengo Suzuki, chief forex strategist at Mizuho Securities, as quoted by Reuters.

In the US, shares rose last night, after the White House hinted that Canada and Mexico could be exempt from tariffs proposed by President Donald Trump, CNBC reported. Asian shares have tracked the US higher.

The Footsie steadied in the previous session, adding 11.09 points to close 0.16 percent higher at 7,157.84. The index found support in Rolls-Royce Holdings (LON:RR), whose shares rallied 11.64 percent after the British engine maker reported that it had returned to annual profit last year.

Thursday’s agenda

The main event in today’s calendar is the ECB rate decision, scheduled to be announced at 12:45 GMT, to be followed by the traditional press conference at 13:30 GMT.

Blue-chips reporting today include G4S (LON:GFS) and Aviva, which is expected to reveal dividend growth. FTSE 100 companies, whose shares will be trading without the attraction of their latest dividend in today’s session, include BHP Billiton (LON:BLT), CRH (LON:CRH), Evraz (LON:EVR), Land Securities (LON:LAND), Persimmon (LON:PSN), Shire (LON:SHP) and Standard Chartered (LON:STAN). Reuters’ calculations suggest that ex-divs will knock 8.31 points off the Footsie.

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