Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Markets stable ahead of possible eruptions

The FTSE 100 broke through the 6,800 mark for the first time since July this week. This may have been partially driven by comments from Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, who insinuated an increased chance of Quantitative Easing from the ECB. In the US, economic data told a story of a reasonably robust economy where the 2nd quarter GDP figures were revised higher from 3.9% to 4.2%.

The Russia/Ukraine conflict escalated further when Russian troops were accused of entering Ukraine with tanks and heavy weaponry. Russia continued to deny any involvement, despite the evidence being seemingly indisputable! Undeterred by such significant geopolitical concern, most markets fell by less than 1% in response.

The Insurance company RSA, who have offices in Horsham, have been given a boost by analysts from Bank of America Merrill Lynch this week, who upgraded the stock from a ‘neutral’ to a ‘buy’ recommendation. They believe that new boss Stephen Hester’s cost-cutting measures will have a positive impact on profitability and cite RSA’s strong balance sheet and slight discount to the sector as further advantages.

Aviation companies such as discount airline Easyjet will be watching events concerning Icelandic volcano Bardarbungo intently as they hope flight paths will not be affected. Recent eruptions have caused the Icelandic Met Office to raise its aviation warning level to red, sending Easyjet shares 1.33% lower on fears over flight cancellations.

The woes of the British supermarkets continued this week, as Tesco issued an unscheduled trading update, cutting its interim dividend by a massive 75% as well as its 2015 profit target. Sainsbury’s and Morrisons were down also, with investors clearly concerned over the impact of a price war on profit margins. 

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