FTSE traded up shortly after opening

Fiona Cincotta
By :  ,  Senior Market Analyst

The FTSE started the week on a higher note supported by a recovery in Asian markets overnight. Concerns over the fallout from an intensifying trade war between the US and China have taken a back seat for the moment despite more comments from Donald Trump over the weekend including the threat of another $100 billion of tariffs against China.

Instead, the focus has turned to solid earning reports from large Chinese companies leading to Asian stock markets trading higher, led by Hong Kong. The Hang Seng Index was up 1.26% while the Nikkei traded up 0.51%.

The US first-quarter earnings season kicks off this week with a number of big names in the financial services industry. 

Asset manager BlackRock will report results on Thursday while JP Morgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo are due to reveal their results on Friday.

Also in the US, on Wednesday the Federal Reserve will release the minutes from its latest monetary policy meeting at which it increased interest rates by 0.25%. The US central bank is expected to hike rates at least two more times this year.

Swiss pharma company Novartis grabbed the headlines Monday as it announced that it is in the process of buying clinical-stage gene therapy group AveXis for $8.7 billion in cash. The deal should be completed by the middle of this year and is expected to be slightly negative for the Swiss company’s operating income in 2018 and 2019.

Shares in Egypt-focused gold miner Centamin fell 0.95% after opening as the company is about to release its first-quarter production results. In January the miner said that it produced 544,658 ounces of gold in the full year 2017, slightly exceeding its guidance of 544,000 ounces, and that its fourth quarter production was 154,298. 

At the time, Centamin said it was looking to “maintain strong operational momentum” throughout 2018.

Focus on UK house prices

The UK Halifax House Price Index came in better than expected Monday showing that house prices in the three months to March 2018 increased 2.7% from the same period a year earlier. 

An increase of only 2% was expected. Prices fell by 0.6% in January and February as the spell of cold weather and snow slowed down sales.

The pound was quoted at USD1.4097 early Monday, flat on the USD1.4098 late Friday.

WPP puts together a list of potential new CEOs

Advertising firm WPP has reportedly put together a list of potential successors to chief executive Martin Sorrell amid allegations of personal misconduct, according to a report in the Times on Monday. 

On the short list are Mark Read, chief executive of subsidiary and digital agency Wunderman; Lindsay Pattison, chief transformation officer of media investment management company Group M; and Johnny Hornby, founder of The &Partnership, partly owned by WPP.

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