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London open: stocks surge ahead of Central Bank meetings

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The FTSE 100 jumped strongly in early trading on Thursday as investor risk appetite increased ahead of policy decisions from the Bank of England (BoE) and the European Central Bank (ECB) later on.

The Bank of Japan meeting overnight was “a bit of a non-event”, according to Market Analyst Craig Erlam, after policymakers voted unanimously for no change in policy, as expected. This decision “comes as no surprise given the size of the bond buying programme already in place and the fact that, so far, ‘Abenomics’ appears to be working, with small amounts of growth and inflation being seen”, Erlam said.

No change is also expected from the BoE and ECB which unveil their decisions at 12:00 and 12:45, respectively, though a close eye will be kept on any accompanying statements from both central banks which could spark some volatility in the markets.

As for the BoE, analysts at Nomura said this morning with forward guidance is now in effect it should make this meeting a “relatively easy” one. “The big question is whether the market is pricing in a more aggressive hiking cycle because it does not believe this guidance, which would warrant further policy action.”

The Federal Reserve’s September Beige Book gave stocks on Wall Street a boost last night after it found that the economic activity grew at a “modest to moderate” pace between July and August, similar to the previous survey. Analyst Cooper Howes from Barclays said that the Beige Book “is consistent with our expectations of a tapering of asset purchases at the September Federal Open Market Committee meeting”.

Investors are now looking ahead to the all-important US jobs report on Friday which will be a large factor in the Fed’s decision on whether or not to adjust current stimulus measures later this month.

If that wasn’t enough, markets will have a barrage of other economic data to digest today, including ADP employment figures, jobless claims, factory orders and the ISM non-manufacturing index.

Syria will likely still be on the back of everyone’s minds on Wednesday as President Barack Obama continues to gather support for a US intervention following last month’s alleged chemical weapons attack by Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Ahead of the crucial vote in Congress next week, Obama said the credibility of the US is on the line over its response. “We believe very strongly with high confidence that chemical weapons were used; we want to join with the international community for an effective response,” he said.

easyJet, which suffered from negative readacross after Ryanair’s profit warnings yesterday, was rebounding this morning after reporting rising passenger numbers and an increased load factor for August.

Banks were also performing well early on with Standard Chartered, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and Barclays all registering decent gains.

Sector peers BP and Shell were subdued after a cautious research report from Nomura which maintained its ‘neutral’ stance on European ‘Big Oil’ stocks. The broker said: “Recent market optimism on the outlook for European Big Oil is premature, in our opinion. Visibility is improving but a transition to long-life assets and a more unconventional asset base will cost more and take longer than consensus expects.”

Oil and gas group BG Group however was in positive territory after Nomura reiterated its ‘buy’ rating, saying it offers “differentiated growth” from others in the Big Oil sector.

Electronics retailer Dixons jumped this morning after saying that underlying group sales rose 4% in the first quarter. It also said it had received an offer for its problematic PIXmania arm and announced the disposal of EletroWorld Turkey.

Fashion group SuperGroup also rose strongly after reporting that quarterly sales soared by nearly 26% following strong demand across the group, in particular womenswear.

Source: ShareCast