FTSE treads water | Investors awaits US jobs figures | Apple on Watch

<p>The FTSE 100 treaded water on Friday as investors reacted to a raft of disappointing UK manufacturing and industrial production data, but most of the […]</p>

The FTSE 100 treaded water on Friday as investors reacted to a raft of disappointing UK manufacturing and industrial production data, but most of the focus was on the release of US jobs figures at 1.30pm.

By 12 noon, the FTSE 100 was trading lower by 4pts at 5897, with similar small weakness seen across Europe.

As the traditional December lull in trading volumes starts to take prominence, we also have the latest release of US jobs data in the shape of non-farm payrolls, private payrolls and the US unemployment rate. As such, traders are mostly keeping their hands in their pockets today until they can gain some clarity on how the US labour market is progressing.

Of course with the Federal Reserve adopting a dovish and easing stance on the basis that the labour market remains extremely challenging, investors will be using any lowering of the unemployment rate as an indicator for when the Fed’s current policy trajectory may change.

Current expectations are for the US non-farm payrolls to slow from 171,000 in October to 93,000 in November, with private payrolls coming in at 95,000 and the unemployment rate remaining unchanged at 7.9%.

A better than expected number could spike equity prices and indices higher and deliver a double positive to the US dollar, whilst the opposite could take place for a weaker than expected reading.

Data out this morning in the shape of UK industrial production and manufacturing was extremely disappointing and kept equities on a weak tone in trading. UK industrial production fell 0.8% in October when a rise of 0.7% had been expected, whilst manufacturing also fell surprisingly sharply by 1.3% when a small fall of 0.2% had been expected. This has been a bad week for the UK in the form of data alongside the fact that austerity has been extended by a year, as announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. The bearish turn in data is expected to see the UK return to contraction in the fourth quarter.

Apple on watch

One equity certainly worth a watch in the US trading session is Apple. The stock price has fallen by 22% since mid-September and the technical ‘death cross’ is looming, with the 50 day moving average about to cross under the 200 day moving average, which traditionally marks a change in the medium term trend. These two moving averages have not crossed since the 50 day ma moved above the 200 day ma in April 2009, which subsequently saw Apple’s shares price rally 426%.

Apple shares are well supported at $520 but a break below $500 could be the sign that the tide is changing with Apple’s dominance.

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