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

Earnings season continues with Barclays and Shell

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

Britain’s blue-chip index looks set to start the session little changed this morning, following upbeat leads from the US and Asia and with investors awaiting the European Central Bank (ECB) policy decision. Investors have a lot to look forward to on the corporate front, with the earnings season continuing with a string of FTSE 100 company reports.

Index seen little changed

IG’s opening calls suggest that the FTSE 100 will start the session 0.07 percent higher at 7,385 points. In the US, shares rose last night, following the previous session’s selloff, as company earnings stayed in focus.

“Earnings have been strong, but right now the market has a high bar for earnings with the tax cut in place," said Jeff Zipper, managing director of investments at US Bank Wealth Management, as quoted by CNBC. “The market also appears to be looking for any bad news” to sell.

In the UK, the Footsie lost ground in the previous session, shedding 46.08 points to close 0.62 percent lower at 7,379.32, with investors digesting company news. Sky (LON:SKY) was the session’s biggest riser in percentage terms, adding 3.90 percent, after receiving a firm £22-billion offer from Comcast.

Thursday’s agenda

Today’s macroeconomic releases include the German GfK consumer confidence index for May, due out at 07:00 BST, to be followed by US durable goods orders data for March at 13:30 BST. The ECB rate decision is scheduled for 12:45 BST, to be followed by the 13:30 BST press conference.

Companies reporting today include Barclays (LO N:BARC), Shire (LON:SHP), Schroders (LON:SDR), Shell (LON:RDSA) and Taylor Wimpey (LON:TW). Blue-chips whose shares will be traded without the attraction of their latest dividend include Antofagasta (LON:ANTO), Fresnillo (LON:FRES), Glencore (LON:GLEN), Legal & General (LON:LGEN) and RELX (LON:REL). Reuters’ calculations suggest that ex-divs will knock 7.4 points off the Footsie.

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