FTSE hit by US losses

A flurry of merger and acquisition news at the start of the week helped the FTSE trade higher early but was not enough to sustain it once US indices started declining.

Tariff angst dominated US trading now that China has decided to call off the next round of trade talks as did reports that the US Deputy Attorney General was about to leave his position amid a battle with President Trump.  All the US indices were in decline this afternoon, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average breaking its recent ferocious winning streak to lose 150 points.

Still, in London Sky shares powered higher now that the company has a new owner. Miners gained some ground but less than in the previous week despite South Africa-based Randgold going for gold with the merger to Canada’s Barrick. 

Base metal prices have stalled for the moment, stopping the sector from making significant advances, unlike oil producers who have benefited from a rally in oil prices.

Oil rises post OPEC meeting

President Trump’s stab at major oil producing countries ahead of their regular meeting in Algeria this weekend  did not lead to much as OPEC decided that his call for them to pump more oil because of looming Iran sanctions wasn’t enough for them to comply. 

Instead they will keep production at the current level while oil prices nudge higher as the market gets nervous ahead of the November cutting off of Iran supply. Unless Trump decides on a more drastic move against the oil producers, which is not beyond the boundaries of possibility, oil will turn into a sellers’ market as buyers become more worried about what the supply situation will be like after November. 

Brent is now trading comfortably above $80, a level with which it has repeatedly flirted with this year but not actually broken, rising by 2.45% post the OPEC meeting. WTI prices are still holding back and are close to $72 because US reserves are repeatedly reported as high and slower to decline.

Dollar and pound swap places

After weeks of being on the defensive as attempt upon attempt of Brexit talks failed, the pound has finally firmed up both against the greenback and the euro. 

The optimism may be premature because the dollar is treading water ahead of the next Federal Reserve rate setting meeting this week. The Fed is widely expected to up interest rates by 25 basis points Wednesday, a decision which will tip the scales back in the greenback’s favour and with other US economic indicators showing good growth there will be little reason for the dollar to lose ground. 

But for the time being the pound is up 0.5% against the US currency and up 0.2% against the euro.

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