The FTSE opened the last trading day of the year a touch higher with a mixture of consumer, property and mining companies making moderate gains. With the pound firmer against the euro and the dollar, FTSE gainers were mostly companies with a strong domestic focus except for miners which were helped by stronger copper and oil prices.
Chinese manufacturing starts shrinking
There was not much of a clue to take from Asia where markets were mostly closed except for Hong Kong, but the Hang Seng notched higher thanks to an optimistic comment from President Trump over the weekend over the Sino-US trade talks. Fresh data showing that Chinese manufacturing has fallen to the lowest level in two years has become a concern to worry about another day but will no doubt register when Asian markets reopen later this week because the country’s Purchasing Managers’ Index, the gauge that shows the strength of Chinese manufacturing, fell for the first time below the critical 50.0 level in December indicating that the sector has begun contracting.
US stock futures are proving an unreliable market gauge this morning, swinging from a slight increase into a small decline, leaving traders guessing which way Wall Street will open later today. Trade is likely to be only a fraction of what is normally is traded as all sessions will close early.
Pound firms on talk of Brexit delay
Put aside to make room for the Christmas dinner, Brexit has been on the back burner for a few days but as soon as the turkey leftovers are eaten Parliament will have to face another Brexit vote next month. If there is no agreement in January both Conservative and Labour MPs plan to push for an extension of the March 29 deadline till July to avoid a no-deal Brexit. The pound strengthened 0.5% against the euro and 0.3% against the greenback.