Local elections hit parties but not FTSE

The FTSE is gently higher and the pound is mixed against the majors as Britain is still counting the votes from yesterday’s local elections.

The FTSE is gently higher and the pound is mixed against the majors as Britain is still counting the votes from yesterday’s local elections. After months and months of high-pitch Brexit drama this was the first chance for voters to show what they think and this they did, punishing both major parties with significant losses.

On the count so far the Conservatives have lost 350 seats while Labour yielded 80 of theirs, mostly to the Liberal Democrats and to independents.  

London stocks were largely unperturbed by the results as clearly bigger decisions await between now and October. HSBC took the lead among the gainers, having reported a 31% increase in pre-tax profits and rising income from its Asian operations. Miners, resources companies and other financials were also among the top risers this morning.

Trade talks cap Asia progress, Fed comment hits US stocks

In Asia, Japan remains closed for holidays but the other markets nudged lower on some weariness over the outcome of the latest round of US-China trade sparring. The trade talks, which were held in Beijing, ended Wednesday possibly with less progress than the markets hoped for.

In US markets, one word from the Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell – calling inflation transitory - triggered a selloff on Wall Street and hit US bonds Wednesday. That’s why US jobs data later today will be looked at more closely than usual for signs about where the US economy is really at. Ahead of the data the dollar is oscillating in a narrow range against the majors, barely stronger against the pound and the euro but unchanged against the yen.

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