Stocks fell on Tuesday after the Bank of Japan decided against adding to stimulus and concerns re-emerged over a drop in the price of oil. Talk of another North Korea nuclear weapons test hasn’t helped market sentiment.
The BOJ is in wait-and-see mode after its surprise move towards a negative interest rate policy. The lack of extra stimulus, which acts to debase the currency, saw the Japanese yen rise despite the BOJ offering a more cautious view on inflation and the economy.
Brent crude has fallen to its lowest in seven-days after topping $40 per barrel and is raising questions over the sustainability of the rebound. The IEA’s call for a bottom in oil appears to have in fact called a short-term top.
The FTSE 100 was weighed down by mining shares after Chilean miner Antofagasta scrapped its dividend, which acted as a sharp reminder of the industry’s suffering after the hefty drop in metals prices.
Shares of Antofagasta tanked after the Chilean copper-miner scrapped its final dividend after annual earnings crashed over 98%. Margins are pretty slim so the 25% slump in copper prices last year decimated profits. The rise in the price of copper this year, in combination with some heavy cost-cutting has helped a dramatic rebound in the share price. If copper has put in its low, there’s a good chance this is the last time the dividend needs to be scrapped.
Legal & General shares fell after the UK’s biggest pension manager reported a rise in profits and lifted its dividend in line with expectations. A drop in retirement new business comes after the government changed to annuities laws and could be put under further pressure from this week’s budget.
Sainsbury’s shares bucked the trend, getting a lift after it saw its first quarterly sales increase in two years. The sales turnaround is a great achievement amidst what is still heavy competition from the discounters. The good Sainsbury’s results also raise a question over whether the intended purchase of Argos-owner Home Retail could see them take their eyes off the prize just as things are coming together.
US stocks look set for a weaker start after the lack of stimulus action from the Bank of Japan as the Federal Reserve begins its two-day policy meeting ahead of retail sales data.
USA pre-opening levels
S&P 500: 12 points lower at 2,007
Dow Jones: 84 points lower at 17,145
Nasdaq 100: 25 points lower at 4,342
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