European shares rebounded from a soft start to the week as markets meander sideways ahead of the latest policy decisions from the Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan.
Better than expected corporate earnings and stable oil prices enabled a rise of a half a percent in the FTSE 100, though tech companies dragged ahead of first quarter results from Apple.
Shares of BP are up over 3% after the oil major reported a sharp decline in profits and revenues but managed to conjure up results that were better than expectations. BP has made strides in reducing costs and boosted trading revenues in the face of decade-low oil prices and a warm winter that hobbled refining margins.
Standard Chartered impressed with its latest set of results that like other top banks saw a sharp reduction in profits that came ahead of expectations. Share rose to the top of the FTSE 100 as pre-tax profits of $589m, down from $1.4bn a year ago lifted hopes that the bank has turned a corner after its first full-year loss in 26 years.
Whitbread shares were amongst the top risers on the UK benchmark equity index after the company raised its dividend in response to growing profits at Costa and its hotels and restaurants. Increasingly loyal coffee-drinkers meant same store sales at Costa grew 2.9% with store expansion meaning total sales were up 16.3%. Revenues at Whitbread’s hotels and restaurants including Premier Inn rose 9.8%. There is increasing competition and technological innovation in food retail and accommodation and Whitbread is taking the approach of rapid expansion to dominate market share.
US markets look set for a higher open with a busy slate of US corporate earnings on the first day of the two-day Federal Reserve policy meeting. Stocks have evidently paused ahead of the meeting since there is a distinct risk the Fed converts to a more neutral tone in order to put a June rate hike back on the table.
Notable earnings before the US open: Procter & Gamble, 3M, Eli Lilly, Lockhead Martin and T-Mobile
Notable earnings after the close: Apple, Twitter, AT&T, Capital One, eBay and Chipotle
USA pre-opening levels
S&P 500: 6 points higher at 2,093
Dow Jones: 40 points higher at 18,017
Nasdaq 100: 12 points higher at 4,486
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