FTSE 100 preview: Muted start ahead as US-China talks stay in focus

Written by: Alice Young
February 19, 2019

The FTSE 100 looks set to open little changed this morning, with the US-China trade relations continuing to dominate investor agenda. On the corporate front, Hong Kong- and London-listed HSBC Holdings (LON:HSBA) has continued the banking reporting season this morning.

Muted start ahead

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IG’s opening calls suggest that the Footsie will start trading 0.01 percent higher at 7,220 points. Sentiment has been upbeat in Asia, ahead of the latest round of trade negotiations between the US and China expected later today. CNBC reports that a follow-up session of higher-level talks is expected later in the week, with both sides looking to resolve their protracted dispute before a March 1 deadline. Reuters meanwhile noted that US President Donald Trump had said last week that he might extend the deadline, which would stop an immediate increase in tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent.

The US market was closed yesterday for Presidents’ Day. At home, the Footsie slipped lower in the previous session, giving up 17.21 points to close 0.24 percent lower at 7,219.47. Reckitt Benckiser (LON:RB), however, rallied as investors cheered better-than-expected sales.

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Tuesday’s agenda

Today’s macroeconomic releases include employment data for the UK, due out at 09:30 GMT, and IG reports that the December unemployment rate is expected to have held at four percent, while the average earnings are expected to have climbed three percent from 3.4 percent. Germany’s ZEW economic sentiment index will follow at 10:00 GMT.

In company updates, HSBC’s full-year profit has fallen short of expectations, sending the shares lower in Hong Kong trading. Sydney- and London-listed BHP Group’s (LON:BHP) first-half profit meanwhile fell amid production disruptions and lower commodity prices. InterContinental Hotels Group (LON:IHG ) is also reporting this morning.