FTSE 100 preview: Index set for slow start following mixed US trading

on Feb 19, 2015

The FTSE 100 Index is expected to open lower today following a mostly negative US lead. Negotiations over Greece’s debt will be closely watched, as it has been confirmed that the country will submit today a request to its eurozone creditors for a six-month extension of its loan programme. The new loan agreement is separate to further bailout measures, for which Greece is still in talks with the eurozone.

The UK’s benchmark equity index closed virtually unchanged at 6,898.08 points. According to data from spread bettor IG, the Footsie will open around 17 points lower today.
US equity markets were mixed yesterday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 ending the trading session slightly lower at 18029.85 points and 2099.68 points, respectively, and the Nasdaq Composite Index closing up 0.14 percent at4906.36.

Minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s last monetary policy meeting, which were released after the close of European markets, indicated that the central bank was likely to push back an interest rate hike to at least the second half of the year. The minutes were slightly more dovish than analysts had been expecting.
“The markets are weighing soft economic data against a Fed that is not entering strengthening,” said Ben Garber, economist at Moody’s Analytics, as quoted by CNBC.

In Asia, several markets are closed today for the Lunar New Year holiday, including China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index closed at its highest level in 15 years on the back of better-than-expected export data. The index finished the day 0.36 percent higher at 18,264.79 points.
On the data front, French CPI data for January and eurozone current account figures for December are due out at 07:45 UTC and 09:00 UTC, respectively. Later in the day the US Labour Department is to release its initial jobless claims report for last week. In terms of corporate earnings reports, Centrica Plc (LON:CNA), BAE Systems Plc (LON:BA) and Sports Direct International Plc (LON:SPD) are due to update the market today.

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