Stocks were little changed in Europe ahead of the Bank of England rate decision.

The disquiet that’s being felt in markets that central banks have reached the limits of monetary easing could be temporally relieved if the Bank of England talks up the chance of adding more stimulus in the coming months. Once the Bank of England is out of the way, next week’s meetings from the Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan will be more reasons to stay on edge.

Economic data from the UK doesn’t warrant any additional action in September but the central bank is likely to stick its guns in suggesting a weaker economy in the coming months rates may need to be cut again in response to a slowing economy after Brexit.

The FTSE 100 was narrowly in the red amidst mixed earnings reports from retailers Morrisons and Next a decline in the oil price hitting energy shares.

Shares of WM Morrison have jumped 7% after well-received quarterly earnings, pulling shares of fellow Big four supermarkets Tesco and Sainsbury’s too. Morrisons reported a 13.5% rise in pre-tax profits for the half-year through June and a third quarter of like-for-like sales growth. Store closures have helped the new management led by David Potts control the supermarket’s costs and partnerships with Amazon and Ocado should continue to improve sales.

Next shares dropped to the bottom of the UK equity benchmark, falling over 5% in a negative reaction from investors to its earnings update. Pre-tax profits at Next fell 1.5%, bolstered by gains in the online and catalogue Directory business. Next chief executive Lord Wolfson saying it has been a “challenging year” says it all. Plans to push up prices next year to offset higher input costs (in US dollars) after the drop in Sterling will be another headwind. Higher clothing prices may see customers continue a long-running shift to cut-price fashion stores like Primark and fast fashion like Zara.

The British pound got a lift after UK retail sales fell much less than expected in August and figures for July were revised higher. The data was before the Bank of England cut interest rates, showing an economic resilience that the Bank of England will struggle to take credit for.

Stocks in the US look set for a lower open in what would be a third day of declines ahead of the release of US inflation data. Yesterday’s losses were despite Apple shares reaching a five-month high and the completion of Bayer’s takeover of Monsanto.

USA pre-opening levels

S&P 500: 3 points lower at 2,122

Dow Jones: 22 points lower at 18,012

Nasdaq 100: 7 points lower at 4,739

 

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