London pre-open: Stocks to pull back ahead of data

Markets are expected to open slightly lower this morning as traders take caution ahead of the weekend as they await a number of leading economic indicators from the US.

City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open down 13 points from yesterday’s close of 6,657.

Stocks gained slightly yesterday despite a worse-than-expected second reading of US gross domestic product growth and a rise in jobless claims: the US economy grew by 2.4% in the first quarter, under the initial 2.5% estimate; while jobless claims rose 10,000 last week, disappointing those who were expecting no change.

Increased speculation that the Federal Reserve will soon begin to scale back its quantitative easing programme has weighed heavily on global markets over recent days, so these figures reassured investors that the recovery isn’t strong enough just yet for the Fed to pull the plug.

 

However, traders are unlikely to turn too optimistic ahead of the Chicago purchasing managers’ index and the University of Michigan confidence data due out later on, for further hints at how the economy is performing in the second quarter. Unemployment figures from the Eurozone will also be closely watched this morning.

Company news was thin on the ground this morning with few major trading updates or results from big hitters in London.

UK banking group Lloyds announced to sell a portfolio of US residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS) for £3.3bn as it continues to dispose of non-core assets to boost capital. The portfolio has a book value of £2.7bn so the bank will pocket a gain of £540m before tax on the sale which will be used for “general corporate purposes”.

Tour operator TUI Travel has committed to spend $6.1bn on 60 new aircraft with the option to acquire the same amount again at the same price.

FTSE 100-listed metals giant Polymetal International has completed the acquisition of the Svetlobor platinum exploration project, an update issued by the company on Friday has shown.

BC

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