The FTSE 100 looks set to start the last trading day of the week marginally higher, with investors awaiting the monthly US jobs report. Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSA) will be in focus today amid reports that the company has joined forces with Blackstone for BHP Billiton’s (LON:BLT) US shale assets.
Steady start ahead
IG’s opening calls suggest that the blue-chip index will start the session 0.11 percent higher at 7,211 points. In the US, shares closed higher last night, after President Donald Trump implemented steel and aluminium import tariffs which excluded Canada and Mexico.
“The main focus is on tariffs,” Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial, told CNBC. “The question for the market is what do these tariffs mean in terms of their economic impact.” Asian shares meanwhile have been steady following news that Trump had agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Whether it comes to anything remains to be seen as we have seen this happen several times over the decades,” said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based chief economist for AMP, as quoted by Reuters.
The FTSE 100 rose in the previous session, adding 45.40 points to close 0.63 percent higher at 7,203.24, as investors digested the European Central Bank’s latest policy meeting.
Jobs report and Shell in focus
Today’s macroeconomic releases include the UK trade balance for January, scheduled to be released at 09:30 GMT. In the US, the nation’s non-farm payrolls report is due out at 13:30 GMT and IG reports that 190,000 jobs are expected to have been added last month, from 200,000 in January. The unemployment rate meanwhile is expected to have held steady at 4.1 percent, while average hourly earnings are forecast to have climbed 0.3 percent month-on-month, in line with the previous month.
In company updates, Sky News reports that Shell and private equity giant Blackstone have agreed to work together on an offer for BHP’s US shale assets, which were put up for sale last summer amid pressure from an activist investor.