London pre-open: Stocks to edge higher amid caution

Mon 16 Apr 2018

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (ShareCast News) - London stocks were set for a marginally firmer open on Monday, with traders likely to be on edge as they await Russia's response to the US-led intervention in Syria.
The FTSE 10 was called to open just 10 points higher at 7,274.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: "One of the main concerns last week was around the extent of the response by the US backed coalition on President Assad of Syria's forces and any Russian reaction to it. The firing of over 100 cruise missiles over the weekend on various targets, with little in the way of casualties, appears to be tempered with relief that while it may reduce the risk of an escalation in the short term, it in no way means that we might not get a counter response further down the line. As such markets here in Europe look set to open cautiously higher this morning after shares traded slightly firmer in Asia.

"The US also appears to be complementing its military approach by focusing on the additional sanctions route, after UN Ambassador Nikki Haley announced that further sanctions were being discussed on Russian companies who have dealings with Assad and the use of chemical weapons, with details likely to be announced by US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin later today."

UK Prime Minister Theresa May was expected to tell MPs on Monday that the airstrikes over the weekend were aimed at preventing human suffering and were in the Britain's national interest.

She is expected to say: "Let me be absolutely clear: we have acted because it is in our national interest to do so. It is in our national interest to prevent the further use of chemical weapons in Syria and to uphold and defend the global consensus that these weapons should not be used.

"We have done it because we believed it was the right thing to do. And we are not alone. There is broad-based international support for the action we have taken."

On the corporate front, following another glitch with the Regulatory News Service early on Monday, news only flooded in at around 0725 BST.

Sir Martin Sorrell stepped down as chief executive officer of WPP with immediate effect, the advertising behemoth announced on Monday.

Chairman Roberto Quarta would become executive chairman until the appointment of a new CEO. The FTSE 100 company said the previously-announced investigation into an allegation of misconduct against Sorrell had concluded, with the allegation not involving amounts that it called "material".

Elsewhere, specialty chemicals group Johnson Matthey announced the appointment of Patrick Thomas as chairman, succeeding Tim Stevenson.

Thomas, who has been CEO and chairman of the board at polymers business Covestro since 2015, will be appointed as chairman with effect from the end of annual general meeting on 26 July, which is when Stevenson retires after seven years.

Listed infrastructure investment company HICL Infrastructure Company announced an investment in the biology, pharmacy and chemistry department of the Paris-Sud University PPP Project on Monday, taking an 85% ownership interest in the project alongside Bouygues Energies & Services and Bouygues Bâtiment Grand Ouest.

The project would involve the design, construction, financing and maintenance
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