FTSE almost flat on mixture of Trump TPP comments and Chinese trade data

The FTSE 100 opened almost unchanged at 7,258.34 Friday, up 1.2 points, as traders digested China’s trade data and President Trump blowing hot and cold over Syria and China.

The FTSE 100 opened almost unchanged at 7,258.34 Friday, up 1.2 points, as traders digested China’s trade data and President Trump blowing hot and cold over Syria and China.

China’s trade surplus with the US, which is at the core of the trade dispute between the two countries, increased 19% in the first three months of the year to a total of $58.3 billion. Yet overnight Donald Trump said he would join the Trans Pacific Partnership, a free trade pact with Asia-Pacific countries that he backed out of last year, if the deal was substantially better than the one offered to his predecessor. And although the US threated to impose tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese products only a week ago, Trump said Thursday the two countries ultimately may not end up levying any tariffs on each other.

Separately, Asian markets reacted with a slight wobble to news that China’s exports fell unexpectedly in March to 2.7% against forecasts of a 10% increase. On closer inspection the drop is likely the result of export firms bringing shipments forward into February ahead of China’s New Year holiday in mid-February – a holiday which brings the country to a halt for about a week. First quarter exports have still grown by 14.1% on the back of exceptionally high levels of shipments in February.

Asian markets traded mixed towards their close with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index almost unchanged and the Nikkei was up 0.55%.

Wall Street ended down across the board Thursday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 1.2%, the S&P 500 0.8% lower and Nasdaq Composite declining 1.0%.

Sterling was quoted at USD1.4230 early Friday, marginally lower compared to USD1.4242 at the London equities close on Thursday.

US bank results to dominate Wall Street trading

The corporate calendar for the day ahead is fairly light in London but Citigroup, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo are all due to report full year results before US markets open today. The three big banks are all expected to report good earnings growth, particularly the first two. Citigroup is forecast to show an almost 20% increase in earnings for the full year, slightly outpacing the overall market, but JPMorgan is expected to report that earnings have risen by just under 40%, partially reaping the benefit of strong stock market increases in US markets. Wells Fargo’s income is pegged to come in 7% higher on the year. First Republic Bank, and PNC Financial Services Group will also report.

Rolls Royce faces higher costs from additional inspections

Shares in Rolls-Royce are coming under pressure after the aircraft engine maker said it will face higher cash costs than planned this year because of additional inspections it plans to carry out on some of its problematic Trent 1000 engines. The engines are installed on the Boeing 787 but have been facing problems as some of the turbine blades have worn out faster than they should have. The inspections are expected to lead to disruptions with airlines which use the company’s Package C engines, with currently 380 of them in service. However, the inspections will not affect Trent 1000 Package B engines or Trent 1000-TEN engines.

The company still affirmed its free-cash-flow guidance for the year of around £450 million and said it will aim to mitigate cost by reprioritizing expenditure.

Kléppiere abandons Hammerson bid

French property group Kléppiere decided to walk away from the acquisition of Hammerson, the owner of Birmingham Bullring and other UK shopping centres, after the British company rejected an improved bid. Earlier this week Kléppiere had increased its offer to 635 pence per share but Hammerson argued that this was only a 3% increase on the previous bid of £4.88 billion and that it still undervalues the company. Hammerson is already in the middle of its own takeover bid, looking to buy UK peer Intu for £3.4 billion in a deal which would extend its reach to most of the UK’s shopping centres.

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