Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
Following another week of gains last week, with Germany’s Dax and the UK’s FTSE 100 index hitting six-week highs on Friday, European stock markets are set to open higher today. US stock futures are also up, pointing to a higher open on Wall Street later.
Asian markets were mixed. The Nikkei in Tokyo closed 0.26% higher while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 1.7% lower.
There is relief that western missile strikes on Syria on Friday did not prompt a response from Russia, Syria’s main ally, although traders will be watching cautiously for any signs of escalation of the conflict.
Oil prices are slipping, with Brent crude in London down 1% to $71.83 a barrel while US crude is 0.9% lower at $66.79 a barrel.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, says:
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.
Geopolitical developments and corporate earnings remain the main focus, in the absence of major economic news apart from US retail sales data for March, out at 13:30 BST.
In the UK, we will get the latest labour market stats tomorrow, followed by inflation on Wednesday and retail sales on Thursday, but today the calendar is barren. The International Monetary Fund holds its spring meetings of central bankers and finance ministers in Washington this week.
The main corporate news at the weekend was the resignation of WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell. He is leaving the advertising group he founded more than three decades ago ahead of the findings of an investigation into alleged personal misconduct. He is in line for almost £20m in payouts. His departure is seen as paving the way for a breakup of WPP.
Here’s a round-up of today’s front pages.