London pre-open: FTSE to edge marginally higher

City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open up three points from yesterday's close of 5,783, following an indecisive mood on Wall Street, with negative news-flow coming out of the Eurozone initially weighing on sentiment before a late rally saw the S&P Composite index return to square one.

City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open up three points from yesterday's close of 5,783, following an indecisive mood on Wall Street, with negative news-flow coming out of the Eurozone initially weighing on sentiment before a late rally saw the S&P Composite index return to square one.

Yesterday's session marked the first day back of full trading on Wall Street after Hurricane Sandy forced two days of closures.

There was less than impressive news out from Panasonic last night in Asia, which provided a drag on markets, although this was offset by a decent set of marco-front manufacturing data from China.

Economic announcements due out today include US Auto Sales, construction spending, as well as US ISM Manufacturing and ISM Prices Paid, all of which are due out at 15:00.

In company news, Anglo-Dutch integrated oil major Royal Dutch Shell's third quarter net income was comfortably ahead of expectations, and there is still more to come, pledged company boss Peter Voser. Earnings on a current cost of supplies (CCS) were $6.13bn, down from $7.25bn in the third quarter of 2011. Broker Charles Stanley had pencilled in a figure of $5bn for net income. Upstream CCS earnings fell back to $4.89bn from $5.44bn the year before, while downstream CCS earnings dipped to $1.73bn from $1.82bn the year before. Charles Stanley had anticipated downstream earnings of about $1.5bn.

Part-nationalsied lender Lloyds Banking saw its underlying profit increase by 148% to £1,904m in the first nine months of the year from £768m in the corresponding period of 2011, and has either reaffirmed or raised full year guidance levels.

Defence contractor Chemring reduced its expectations for its profits for the financial year ended October 31st 2012 following delays and technical problems in a number of contracts. In an update on current trading Chemring said a contract for the supply of vehicle based mortar systems for a Middle Eastern customer was experiencing delays in the granting of export licences for a limited number of parts. This delay the group believes is unlikely to be resolved in the near term and will continue into its new financial year.

Questor in The Telegraph writes that Lonmin has been forced into raising $800m (£497m) as the group was at risk of breaking its banking covenants. This is now unlikely, but significant challenges remain after 20,000 ounces of production was lost in recent wildcat strikes in South Africa. The strikes have curbed platinum output so much that the market could move into deficit next year, which should support prices. However, platinum prices are also more dependent on the European economy than other metals. Questor advised avoiding Lonmin shares on August 26th when they were at 640p. The shares are now 20% lower and investors are being asked to stump up more cash. The company's near-term survival will be assured by the fund-raising, but problems in the South African mining industry have not gone away. Avoid, says Questor.

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