European markets are continuing their attempt to claw back Monday’s losses after Asian markets were encouraged by Apple results last night.
The results show the impressive strength of sales in its iPhone product which continues to lure in people who’ve yet to get themselves a smart phone. There are still millions of people yet to make the move to a smart phone, and whilst the iPhone might be losing a little bit of ground it is still the device of choice for anyone who is making the move from a standard device to a whizzy new one with all the apps and other toys. Not only that but it’s the China story again where Apple saw a massive surge in sales, and after declining around 2% in normal trade the stock rallied a whopping 7% after the bell. This has done quite a bit to assist the share price which has been seeing a natural correction for the last couple of weeks and quite a substantial one of around 15% from the dizzy heights of over $643 to $559.80 at the close. The move after the bell takes it back towards 600 bucks.
The UK GDP numbers will be in the spotlight today to see if our economy has dipped back into recession or not. If it wasn’t for a dip in construction and manufacturing in recent months we would be expecting a figure of around 0.5%, more than recouping the retraction of 0.3% in Q4 of 2011. It’s the services sectors which have been in very good shape and should assist in the UK avoiding a technical recession, but the bottom line is that over the past six months the UK economy has shrunk, and with the eurozone continuing to struggle the prospects for future growth does not look all that bright.
The FTSE 100, which touched its 200 day moving average earlier this month, has done well to bounce back from around the 5560 area. Over the medium term this remains the major support area whilst to the upside bulls will be eying up 5800 and then 5900 before the magic 6000 level. Over the shorter term 5640 and 5590 to the downside and 5775 is resistance to the upside. At the time of writing the FTSE has opened at 5720, just in the black as investors look ahead to those UK GDP numbers.
In the afternoon traders will have to digest US durable goods orders and some more blue chip corporate earnings. Yesterday’s mixed bag of US economic data was shrugged off as traders focused on the stronger earnings, but markets may struggle to repeat the same feat today as traders square their books ahead of tonight’s FOMC statement, released after the European close.
We saw only timid attempts by the euro to rise during the morning session as investors contemplated the European sovereign debt crisis possibly getting worse. However, the success of the Spanish and Dutch bonds sales calmed a few nerves with another positive touch being offered by the recovering US housing sector. As a result the common currency gained in the afternoon ending 40 pips up at 1.3195, and this morning is adding to those small gains trading at 1.3210. Near term support and resistance is seen at 1.3125/05 and 1.3230 respectively.
Sterling’s strength just took a small rain check yesterday as it retreated from the 1.2275 level against the euro. This morning GBP/EUR is at 1.2220 and all eyes are on the GDP data. If it surprises to the upside then we could see a test of yesterday’s highs, but there’s stiff resistance at that level ahead of the major hurdle of 1.2400, a break above which will see a three and a half year high against the single currency.
Gold benefited from slight dollar weakness yesterday and rose $3.25 to $1641.37, but the thin trading range points to a cautious approach. Well received debt auctions in Spain, Italy and the Netherlands combined with positive economic data in the US sent some interest the precious metal’s way. Nevertheless, a better indication on gold’s near term direction will probably be offered by the FOMC Statement due later today.
Energy market participants, unconvinced that oil demand in Europe will see better days in the short term, pushed Brent crude prices down yesterday. Tensions with Iran look to be away from the spotlight for the moment and that also put downward pressure on Brent. So it was little surprise to see its price losing 59 cents to $118.16. This morning Brent is a little higher to 118.40.