Morning Editorial: Into the breach (with Dixons)

Calls for a muted start comes after mixed trading in Asia and Wall St, as the giddiness from the Trump/Kim summit wanes and attention turns to the lack of verifiable and irreversible NK commitments to actually get rid of its nuclear weapons.

Morning Editorial: Into the breach (with Dixons)

FTSE 100 Index called to open flat at 7700, trading around the midline of a 3-week sideways channel. At present testing 7690 for support after the latest reversal from the 7770 ceiling. Bulls need a break above 7710 overnight highs. Bears require a breach of 7685 overnight lows. Watch levels: Bullish 7710, Bearish 7685.

Calls for a muted start comes after mixed trading in Asia and Wall St, as the giddiness from the Trump/Kim summit wanes and attention turns to the lack of verifiable and irreversible NK commitments to actually get rid of its nuclear weapons. And what Trump gave up for the pledge. Trade wars back on the agenda as the US prepares a list of Chinese companies subject to crippling tariffs.

USD pushing higher ahead of this evening’s Fed policy update, providing a cushion for the FTSE by way of GBP weakness. A hike is expected but more focus on the expectations for further hikes. Chair Powell may also be considering a press conference after every Fed meeting, rather than every other which could open the door to both more hikes and less predictability.

Oil prices are lower after last night’s API inventory report showed a smaller than expected drawdown, pointing to rising supply as OPEC and Russia are embroiled in a debate about reversing the production cuts that have helped get prices back to current highs.

In corporate news this morning Glencore’s Katanga Mining has settled a legal dispute with the DRC’s state-owned Gécamines, agreeing to write off $5.6bn via a debt-for-equity swap to plugs a capital shortfall at their joint venture Kamoto Copper Company (75% owned by Katanga). Just Eat rival Deliveroo will allow restaurants to use their own riders for orders placed through its takeaway food app, increasing available outlets by 50% to ramp up the competition.

Dixons Carphone reveals data breach; attempt to compromise 5.9m cards. Charles Stanley FY 2018 pre-tax profit +30%. Biffa swings to pre-tax profit, but CEO to step down. Mulberry FY 2018 pre-tax profit -8%; to create new South Korea JV. Bank of Ireland says in strong financial position, now in a growth phase.

Connect Group (ex-Smiths News) warns on profits after material fall in volumes and increased costs (delays to savings); performance since 1 May been extremely disappointing (esp. World cup products); will close Pass My Parcel and wind down Parcel Shop network; dividend to be substantially reduced; CEO & CFO step down.

 In focus, today will be the US Fed FOMC (7pm) and another widely expected interest rate hike. Not so much for the hike (2nd this year; 7th since Dec 2015), but the statement and press conference (7.30pm). Because markets are sensitive to USD and investors desperate for clues about, 1) the trajectory for future hikes, 2) how far the Fed will allow inflation to over/under-shoot its 2% target, to fight inflation/disinflation, and, 3) whether the Fed refers to any concern about “trade wars”.

Closer to home, UK Consumer Price Inflation (CPI; 9.30am) may impact expectations for the timing of the next Bank of England (BoE) rate rise, with reactions from both GBP and shares in Banks and Retailers. Headline and Core inflation hit 13 months in April, and while the former is expected higher in May (2.5% YoY vs 2.4% prev.), Core is forecast unchanged at 2.1% YoY; just above the BoE’s target, reducing urgency for an interest rate hike to cool inflation, and  even though it wants to normalise policy historically accommodative levels, Brexit remains a cloud of economic uncertainty.

Away from data and back with geopolitics, GBP (and in turn the FTSE) is sure to be sensitive to news-flow from Westminster as MPs spend day 2 debating and voting on amendments to the UK’s Brexit Withdrawal bill. This keeps up pressure on the government and Eurosceptic hardliners, although the government fought off a rebellion on major amendments yesterday (e.g. “meaningful vote on final deal”) although not without concessions which reduce the chance of a “no deal”. Other crucial votes, including keeping close customs ties with Europe post-Brexit, are due today, in which case the warm-up act, Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs, 12pm), could be as lively as ever.

In the afternoon, US Producer Price Inflation (PPI; 1.30pm) is seen picking up at the Headline but Core unchanged, echoing yesterday’s US CPI. Official US Oil inventories (3.30pm) could move Crude prices should they back up or go against last night’s private API report.

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