FTSE close to flat ahead of US GDP data and Canada talks

Lack of news seems to be good news for the FTSE this morning which is trading only just into positive territory, as are European indices the DAX and the CAC.

The afternoon should bring some news on the progress of the trade talks between Canada and the US and the first stab at the US second quarter GDP data.

The greenback is holding back ahead of the GDP numbers, trading 0.19% higher against the euro but flat against the yen.

British shop prices rise for the first time in five years

The hot British summer has brought more consumers onto the high street for the first time in months. 

This relieved pressure on retailers who have struggled this year, not only with competition from online retailers, but also a general dampening of the shopping mood as the Brexit date moves closer.

In August retail prices rose for the first time in more than five years, albeit by just 0.1%, partially because higher oil prices contributed to transport and distribution costs and as the weaker pound made the prices of imported goods higher.

Although the Bank of England indicated that it was unlikely to opt for a rate increase so soon after the previous one, mainly because of Brexit, today’s retail numbers will contribute to the Bank of England’s deliberations over UK inflation when the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee next meets on 13 September.

For the time being the pound continues to tread water against the dollar but has nudged 0.2% up against the euro.

Utilities rise. Sign of uncertainty?

United Utilities is up 3.66% this morning with Centrica, Severn Trent and National Grid among the top gainers.

Utilities are typically the least loved stocks with little news to move them; they act like gold does in the commodities markets – a safe haven buy at times of uncertainty.

Tuesday’s move higher was partially triggered by a positive broker note on United Utilities but is also a sign of investors looking for a solid staple stock ahead of a likely tumultuous pre-Brexit autumn.

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