FTSE 100 preview: Lacklustre start ahead as investors eye data

on Mar 3, 2016

The UK benchmark index looks set to start the day little changed, following mildly positive leads from the US and Asia, and with investors staying cautious ahead of data for the UK services sector today, and the US jobs report tomorrow. Shares in BHP Billiton (LON:BLT) will be in focus amid news of an agreement with Brazil over the dam spill disaster in Brazil.

IG’s opening calls suggest that the Footsie will start the day one point higher at 6,148. The FTSE 100 index is expected to underperform other European indices with shares in heavyweight HSBC Holdings (LON:HSBA) going ex-dividend.
Stocks closed slightly higher on the other side of the Atlantic last night, as the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book showed that economic activity had increased in most regions. In Asia, stocks have extended gains this morning, propped up by a surge in commodity prices, including oil.

In the UK, the Footsie ended the day marginally lower, shedding 0.1 percent to close at 6,147.06, pressured by hefty losses in ITV (LON:ITV) and Intertek (LON:ITRK) which updated the market on their full-year performance yesterday. Traders told Reuters that February’s unexpected dip in the UK’s construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) had also weighed on investor sentiment.
Today’s macroeconomic calendar includes the UK services PMI for February, due out at 09:30 GMT. IG reports that the number is expected to have climbed to 55.78, from 55.6.
Blue-chip companies reporting today include Travis Perkins (LON:TPK), Schroders (LON:SDR), Admiral (LON:ADM) and CRH (LON:CRH). In other news, BHP’s joint venture with Vale, Samarco, is to pay out more than £4 billion in damages for a dam spill in Brazil that killed 19 people.
FTSE 100 companies whose shares will be trading without the attraction of their latest dividend today include Hargreaves Lansdown (LON:HL), HSBC, Persimmon (LON:PSN) and RSA Insurance (LON:RSA). Reuters calculations suggest that ex-divs would knock 13.2 points off the Footsie.

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