European stocks markets have been pushed higher by the positive move in Asia overnight after the Bank of Japan kept their monetary policy unchanged.

The Japanese central bank upped its growth forecast for the next two years, but it also reduced its inflation outlook. Traders viewed the lowering of the inflation projection as a sign that their loose monetary policy will remain unchanged for some time.

Investors are looking ahead to the European Central Bank (ECB) meeting at 12.45pm. Traders are not anticipating any change to the policy but the press conference at 1.30pm might provide clues as to future alterations. The ECB chief, Mario Draghi, has praised the progress of the eurozone but has stopped short of calling for a reduction in the size of the bond buying scheme. Keeping the euro lower is in his interest, so I suspect Mr Draghi will not be overly rosy in his outlook.

Sports Direct shares are up over 6% even though the company revealed a 60% drop in full-year profits. Negative foreign exchange movements were largely to blame for the plunge in profits. A turnaround in its treatment of employees and ‘new strategic partnership’ with Asics has brought investors on side.

Anglo American is a touch higher today after it stated it was on track to achieve its production targets. In light of the stable update, traders are wondering if the company will start paying dividends again.

The GBP/USD was helped by the better than expected UK retail sales. The headline figure on a year-on-year basis was 2.9%, and the consensus was for 2.5%, and it was a big jump from last year’s 0.9%. The jump in retail sales was welcomed by sterling traders at it brought the pound off the lows of the session. 

We are anticipating the Dow Jones to open 22 points higher at 21,662, and we are calling the S&P 500 up 1 point at 2475.

At 1.30pm the US will announce the jobless claims report, and dealers are expecting at reading of 245,000, and that would be a decline from last week’s 247,000.  

Bank of New York Mellon and Microsoft will announce their quarterly results today. 

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