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Traders tetchy over trade-war talk

Investors are tetchy this morning on the back of Gary Cohn’s resignation last night. 

Mr Cohn was the top economic advisor to President Trump, and his stepping down comes at a time when the president is talking about imposing tariffs on imported steel and aluminium. The possibility of a protectionist stance from the White House flies in the face of Mr Cohn’s free-market views. Investors are viewing the resignation as a sign the US could be heading for a trade war.

Rolls Royce shares rocketed after the company revealed a strong set of results, indicating its restructuring programme is working. Revenue rose by 9%, and the firm swung to a profit of £4.9 billion, an impressive turnaround after recording a loss of £4.6 billion last year. The company is reorganising the overall business, has and now has three units rather than five, but there has been no comment in relation to a reduction in head count. The stock jumped to its highest level since November, and if the positive run continues it could target 1,000p.

Biffa stated that trading in the second-half is anticipated to be in line with the company’s forecasts. The firm is growing organically and has completed two takeovers since November, which underlines its confident outlook. Numis cut its price target for the company to 285p, from 315p, and the stock is down 12.3% at 216p.

GBP/USD had a muted reaction to the slightly better-than-expected house price data from the UK. According to Halifax, three-month average UK house prices grew by 1.8% in February, while analysts were expecting a reading of 1.6%. It is worth noting that the previous reading was 2.2%.

EUR/USD is higher on account of a weaker US dollar. Eurozone GDP for the fourth-quarter was 2.7% - in line with estimates.

At 1.15pm (UK time) the US ADP employment report for February is released, and the consensus is for 194,000 jobs to have been added, compared with 234,000 jobs added in January.  

We are expecting the Dow Jones to open down 340 points at 24,544 and we are calling the S&P 500 down 30 points at 2698.

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