There were some jitters in Asian trading overnight in part due to weaker Chinese factory numbers (Caixin purchasing managers’ index). In Hong Kong Tencent, again, came under pressure, down -2.7%. However the Nikkei climbed +0.41% with Komatsu and Concordia Group climbing +5.6% and +4.7%. There was also some more positivity on tech stocks generally aided by the US Nasdaq’s stronger +0.73% lift yesterday.
The unanimous decision by OPEC to extend production cuts for nine months through 2018 did see a bit of compromise around the edges: Russia wants to increase production to stem market share worries posed by US shale producers.
Rising oil prices are goading US shale players back into the market (shale drillers have upped output every month this year according to latest Energy Information Administration data). So OPEC will include a production limit review at its next main meeting in June 2018. Brent crude is up +0.6% this morning at 63.05.
Overnight the pound was -0.06% down against the dollar at 1.3521 and -0.2% weaker against the euro at 1.1347. A just-out report from Natwest Markets warns of considerable 2018 volatility for sterling – but the direction of travel is positive it claims. At 9.30am UK Markit manufacturing PMI numbers emerge.
- UK FTSE 100 7,326.67 -0.90%
- Dow 24,272.35 +0.82%
- S&P 500 2,467.58 +0.82%
- Nasdaq 6,873.97 +0.73%
- Nikkei 225 22,819.03 +0.41%
- DAX 13,023.98 -0.29%
- CAC 40 5,372.79 -0.47%
- Gold 1,278.50 +0.14%
- Oil WTI 57.58 +0.31%
RBS to close more than 250 branches
Earlier this morning the BBC reported that up to 25% of all RBS branches in Scotland are to close. RBS is blaming the move on online services – many customers are simply not using bricks-and-mortar branches in the way they used to. The list of branches likely to go is here. In total, 259 branches across the UK will shut with more than 650 jobs going in total.
The move is also being affected by bank margins. With sustained low interest rates over such a long period of time, bank profits are coming under ever closer pressure.