Market overview: Stocks end lower despite US data

1630:Close UK stocks finished lower on Friday despite the release of better than expected economic data Stateside. Nevertheless, they did manage to close well off their lows of the day. William Hill did best on the benchmark after managing to get off 375m pounds in debt to pay off the bridge-loan it took on to finance the acquisition of Sportingbet Australia and the purchase of Playtech’s 29 per cent stake in William Hill Online. FTSE 100 down 74 to 6,583.

14:55 The University of Michigan’s final reading on its consumer confidence index for the month of May has come in at 84.5 (Consensus: 83.0).

14:45 The Chicago NAPM’s regional manufacturing sector purchasing managers’ index for the month of May has come in at 58.7 (Consensus: 50.0). To be had in account, the link between this gauge and its equivalent at the national level – due out on Monday – is not necessarily that close in a given month. However, at first glance it looks like a fairly strong reading, comment analysts at Digital Look. The new orders, order backlog and employment sub-indices all rose. FTSE 100 down 40 to 6,617.

14:15 Markets are continuing to trade sideways following a sharp fall in the opening hour with the FTSE 100 down 59 points at 6,598 ahead of the US opening bell. Futures are pointing to 0.5 per cent declines on the S&P, Dow and NASDAQ when US markets open in 15 minutes’ time.

13:30 US personal consumption expenditures dropped by 0.2 per cent month-on-month in April (Consensus: 0.0 per cent). Personal incomes, on the other hand, remained flat, versus expectations for a rise of 0.1 per cent.

12:35 At today’s conference the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has decided that member countries should adhere to the existing production ceiling of 30.0m barrels per day. It notes, however, that given how non-OPEC supply is expected to grow by 1.0m barrels per day this year then the second half of 2013 could see a further ‘easing’ in fundamentals, despite seasonally higher demand. FTSE 100 down 57 to 6,600.

12:08 The FTSE 100 is down 62 points at 6,595 ahead of the opening bell on Wall Street with stock futures pointing to sharp losses from the off when US markets open in just over two hours’ time. US consumer spending figures out before the bell are expected to show no progress in April, following the 0.2 per cent gain the month before. Meanwhile, personal incomes are forecast to rise just 0.1 per cent, under the 0.2 per cent rise in March. The University of Michigan consumer confidence index is expected to show no change from the 83.7 initial reading for May, though this was still at a six-year high.

10:14 Analysts at UBS today hail Halford’s investment plans, although they admit they were surprised by the cut to its dividend. In their own words: “We suspect that Halfords has “kitchen sinked” its fiscal year 2014 guidance and therefore see limited risk to the downside for earnings and a reasonable degree of potential upside if the sales recovery is better than expected.” FTSE 100 down 65 to 6,592.

09:39 European Central Bank (ECB) Governing council member Ignasio Visco has indicated that they are ready to intervene again on rates. These remarks have jolted the euro/dollar exchange rate lower, to 1.3010, from 1.3060 before his remarks. Italy’s unemployment rate has hit a 36 year high in April, at 12.0 per cent, well above the 11.5 per cent expected. FTSE 100 down 58 to 6,599.

09:30 UK mortgage approvals remained at 53,700 in April, the same as last month but slightly below the 54,600 expected by economists.

08:45 UK stocks have started the last day of the month on a weak note, in what some market commentary is describing as somewhat confusing market conditions. That comes ahead of this afternoon’s data Stateside, with investors expected to focus on the University of Michigan’s latest reading on consumer sentiment and the Chicago NAPM’s regional manufacturing sector purchasing managers’ index. Either report could easily sway markets one way or another. Also very much worth pointing out is the International Monetary Fund’s warning that Japan’s efforts to reinvigorate its economy have weakened the yen to a level “moderately below” its natural trading value. There is also some speculation in markets about the economic data which are scheduled for release this next weekend – in China – which may came out weaker than forecast. Lonmin is leading gains early on in the FTSE 350, on the back of reports of progress in its talks with unions. Utility stocks are bouncing back today after recent weakness, backed up by shares of Lloyds and RBS. Here in the UK, the lending to individuals data for April are released at 09:30. The GfK consumer confidence index rose to -22, from -27 previously, underpinned by increases in the backward- and forward-looking general economic situation balances of 9 and 8 points, respectively, economists at Barclays Research are pointing out. FTSE 100 down 53 to 6,604.

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