The FTSE 100 is on track to finish the day firmly in positive territory.
The British market is showing gains across all the major sectors, financials, consumer goods, mining and energy. The rally in iron ore and oil has helped the market outperform its Continental rivals as it has a relatively high exposure to commodity stocks. Mainland Europe is a mixed bag, as the DAX is drifting lower, while the CAC hit as level not seen since early December. The FTSE 250 is pushing higher too, and sentiment is strong even though there is a serious lack of clarity in relation to Brexit.
Wizz Air shares are higher even though the company posted an 88% fall in third-quarter net profit. Total revenue by 21.2% and passenger growth was 14.9%. Higher fuel costs helped drive up total operating costs by 25.6%. The airline said it has started to see the uncertainty surrounding Brexit in terms of bookings. Wizz Air UK limited was granted a UK route licence and this future-proofs the status of the company as British. While the stock remains below its 200-day moving average at 3,125p, its outlook should remain negative.
LVMH released this latest figures yesterday after the European close. The company confirmed that full-year net profit and sales jumped by 18% and 10% respectively. Earnings and revenues are now at record levels. Despite the cooling of the Chinese economy, and the trade spat with the US, LVMH’s Chinese division is still performing well. Organic sales in Asia, excluding Japan, jumped by 15%. Meanwhile, Europe and the US registered sales growth of 7% and 8% respectively. It is clear the super wealthy in Asia sill have an appetite for Western luxury brands.
Banco Santander revealed a positive set of numbers. Fourth-quarter net earnings jumped by 34%, and full-year net profits jumped by 18%. Latin America is an important region as the Brazilian operation accounted for 26% of total underlying profit. Net interest income edged up in the last quarter, while the non-performing loan ratio ticked lower. The banks liquidity position improved too as the CET 1ratio increased to 11.3%, and it topped its own target of 11%.
The Dow Jones and S&P 500 have racked up gains today thanks to strong corporate earnings. US-China trade talks begin today and dealers will be listening out for any updates. It is worth noting, we didn’t hear much detail from the previous trade discussions earlier this month. The Federal Reserve will release their interest rate decision at 7pm (UK time) and the press conference will follow at 7:30pm (UK time). The central bank are tipped to keep rates on hold, and the update is likely to be along the neutral line. The Fed have adopted a less hawkish outlook recently, and that view is likely to continue.
Last night after the closing bell, Apple announced its fourth-quarter figures. EPS were $4.18, which just about topped the $4.17 that analysts were expecting Revenue for the period was $84.3 billion, and that just about exceeded the $84 billion that dealers were expecting. The tech giant suggested it might trim prices as a way of boosting shipments of iPhones in certain countries. The group predicts that revenue for the three months until late March will be in the region of $55 and $59 billion, and that would equate to a fall of at least 3.4% on an annual basis.
Boeing shares rallied after the company confirmed that full-year revenue topped $100 billion for the first time. The quarterly results were well received too as fourth-quarter EPS were $5.48, which easily topped the $4.59 that analysts were anticipating. Revenue for the final quarter was $28.34 billion, while the consensus estimate was $26.87 billion. The firm delivered 806 aircrafts - a record number, thanks to a large number of defence contracts and high commercial demand. The outlook was upbeat too.
The ADP employment report showed that 213,000 jobs were added in January, which topped the 178,000 that economists were forecasting. December’s report was 271,000, and when you take an average of the two reports it paints positive picture of the US jobs market.
GBP/USD recouped some of the ground that was lost yesterday evening when MP’s made it clear they don’t want to leave with EU without a deal, but at the same time they want to change the withdrawal agreement. Parliament backed a plan to find an alternative to the Irish backstop, but the EU have made it clear they are not willing to renegotiate, so things are still up in the air.
EUR/USD is a little lower today due to the firmer US dollar. We had some mixed data from the eurozone this morning. The French economy grew by 0.3% in the fourth-quarter, and that topped the forecast of 0.1%. Given the broadly disappointing services and manufacturing numbers from France in recent months, the growth figure doesn’t stack up. The eurozone consumer confidence report remained steady at -7.9. German CPI remained at 1.7% - meeting forecasts.
Gold has notched up another eight month high as the metal’s bullish move continues. The Fed announcement and press conference will be in focus later today, and should the US central bank continue to push their less hawkish stance, the metals’ upward move might be extended.
Oil edged up in the wake of the Energy Information Administration figures. The reported showed a 919,000 barrel increase in US stockpiles, while traders were expecting a 3 million barrel build. Gasoline inventories dropped by 2.2 million barrels ,while dealers were expecting a 1.8 million barrel build, The US sanction on Venezuela have propelled the oil market higher recently.
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