FTSE opens higher as Chinese presidential comments smooth waters between US and China

The FTSE 100 started Tuesday morning on a positive note, trading 0.42% higher after opening at 7,225.51 supported by positive remarks from Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding the opening of China’s economy. He said that the country will significantly broaden market access to its banking, securities and insurance sectors and increase cooperation with foreign financial markets. Significantly, he avoided any direct comments about US imports and offered a softer remark about the world experiencing an "overwhelming trend toward openness".

The FTSE 100 started Tuesday morning on a positive note, trading 0.42% higher after opening at 7,225.51 supported by positive remarks from Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding the opening of China’s economy. 

He said that the country will significantly broaden market access to its banking, securities and insurance sectors and increase cooperation with foreign financial markets. Significantly, he avoided any direct comments about US imports and offered a softer remark about the world experiencing an "overwhelming trend toward openness".

Although most of the comments did not come as a surprise – China has been pursuing a policy of gradually opening its markets to foreign investors over a number of years – having these views confirmed by Xi was welcomed in Asia, Europe and the US.

In Asia the Nikkei Stock Average rose 0.7%, the Hang Seng Index rallied 1.2% and the Shanghai Composite increased 0.5% in response to Xi’s speech. US stocks closed slightly higher on Monday and then stock futures continued to gain overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished Monday’s trading up 0.19% at 23, 979 and the S&P 500 increased 0.33% to 2,613.

This morning the pound was unchanged against the dollar at $1.4131 while gold traded 0.29% lower at $1,332.38 an ounce.

The Chinese president’s comments boosted oil prices on hopes that the trade tensions between the US and China, the two biggest crude oil consumers, will start easing. 

In London Brent crude rose to $69.04 per barrel, up 0.6% from Monday’s close.

Card Factory reports increase in revenue and sales

Card Factory reported a 4.3% increase in revenues in 2017 to £398.2 million and said that like-for-like store sales were up 0.4% while online sales were barely changed at £19.3 million, up from £19.2 million. 

However, the company’s profit before tax was lower at £82.8 million, down from £83.7 million.

Bayer gets green light on Monsanto from US Justice Department

German pharmaceutical firm Bayer was given the green light by the US Justice Department to complete the $62.5 billion takeover of agricultural giant Monsanto after the companies agreed to sell additional assets to avoid antitrust issues.

The deal was first announced in 2016. Monsanto shares rallied 6.6% after the report.

There are no major economic indicators due to be published in the US today but the markets will keep a close eye on domestic politics after the Federal Bureau of Investigation Monday raided the office of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. 

According to a report by the Washington Post Cohen was being investigated for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations.

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