London pre-open: Stocks seen touch higher ahead of US data

Thu 31 Aug 2017

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (ShareCast News) - London stocks were set for a slightly firmer open on Thursday, taking their cue from a positive session in the US after the release of encouraging jobs and GDP data.
The FTSE 100 was expected to open 13 points higher at 7,378.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: "While European markets managed to post a modest recovery yesterday the rebound was still a pretty mediocre one when set against the declines of the previous day, as some cautious buyers returned to the market, as tensions around North Korea subsided temporarily.

"US investors remained more exuberant, with the S&P500 closing higher for the fourth day in succession with tech stocks helping drive gains, as US economic data continued to surprise to the upside, while in Asia a better than expected Chinese manufacturing PMI number for August also kept spirits up."

There are no major UK data releases due on Thursday so market participants will be turning their attention to the US, where the PCE, jobless claims, pending home sales and the Chicago purchasing managers' index are all due ahead of Friday's non-farm payrolls report.

In corporate news, Restaurant Group sales deteriorated as the first half of the year wore on, but the Frankie & Benny's and Garfunkel's owner served up a flat dividend as it reported early signs of improvement and broke back into the black.

For the 26 weeks to 2 July, like-for-like sales shrank 2.2% and the company reported an adjusted profit before tax of 25.5m down from 36.6m a year ago, while at the statutory level a 2.8m PBT followed last year's loss of 22.5m.

Interim pre-tax profits at international building materials distributor Grafton rose 18% to 74.1m as it warned that recent softer trends in the UK economy are likely to be sustained over the remainder of the year. The dividend was lifted 11% to 5.25p a share.

British American Tobacco updated the market on its management structure following the completion of the acquisition of Reynolds American.

The FTSE 100 firm had previously announced the addition of Debra Crew as president and CEO of Reynolds American from the end of July, and was now confirming that Jack Bowles - currently regional director of the Asia Pacific region, would be appointed to the newly-created role of chief operating officer for the international, non-US business.
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