LONDON (Alliance News) - Stocks in London are set to open marginally higher on Thursday, supported by some gains in the US overnight, with focus for the day ahead on the European Central Bank's latest monetary policy decision at 1245 BST.
Before that, in another busy day for earnings on Thursday, oil major Royal Dutch Shell and lender Barclays post first-quarter results.
Full-year results are due from clothing retailer N Brown, and trading statements from housebuilder Taylor Wimpey, pizza delivery chain Domino's Pizza and pumps & valves maker Weir Group.
Later in the day, first-quarter results are due from Irish drugmaker and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co takeover target Shire at 1200 BST.
"While markets in Europe slipped back yesterday in the wake of rising concern about rising yields they still remain well off the lows of the week. US markets finally managed to find a bid after five days of losses, with the S&P 500 finding support at its 200 day [moving average] to finish the day higher, which in turn should translate into a modestly positive open here in Europe this morning," says CMC Markets chief market analyst Michael Hewson.
IG says futures indicate the FTSE 100 index of large-caps to open 3.68 points higher at 7,383.00 on Thursday. The FTSE 100 index closed down 0.6%, or 46.08 points at 7,379.32 on Wednesday.
In the US on Wednesday, Wall Street ended mostly higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ending up 0.3% and the S&P 500 up 0.2%, though with the Nasdaq Composite closing 0.1% lower.
After Wall Street closed on Wednesday, social media site Facebook reported a 63% surge in profit in the first quarter as ad revenue continued to climb, though this comes amid the ongoing controversy regarding the misuse of user data.
Facebook recently faced heavy criticism in the wake of revelations that data from 87 million people was accessed by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which is linked to US President Donald Trump's election campaign, without their permission.
Nevertheless, revenue for the quarter surged 49% to USD11.97 billion from USD8.03 billion last year. Analysts had a consensus revenue estimate of USD11.41 billion for the quarter.
"Despite facing important challenges, our community and business are off to a strong start in 2018," said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder & chief executive officer. "We are taking a broader view of our responsibility and investing to make sure our services are used for good. But we also need to keep building new tools to help people connect, strengthen our communities, and bring the world closer together."
Meanwhile, focus on Thursday is the ECB's latest monetary policy decision at 1245 BST, which will be followed by a press conference with President Mario Draghi at 1330 BST.
"We do not expect today's ECB meeting to deliver any changes in policy or communication," said analysts at Societe Generale.
"ECB speakers have put on a brave face recently despite the weaker incoming data. Although the slowdown should mainly be transitory, we are unlikely to get an improved inflation outlook by June, thus forcing the ECB to consider another QE extension," Societe Generale said.
The euro was quoted at USD1.2178 early Thursday ahead of the ECB, flat compared to USD1.2175 at the London equities close on Wednesday.
In Asia on Thursday, the Japanese Nikkei 225 index is up 0.5%. In China, the Shanghai Composite is down 1.2%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong is down 0.9%.
In the economic calendar on Thursday, Germany's Gfk consumer confience suvery is at 0800 BST and UK BBA mortgage approvals at 0930 BST, with the CBI distributive trades survey at 1100 BST. In the afternoon, US initial and continuing jobless claims are at 1330 BST, with the goods trade balance and wholesale inventories due at the same time.
Already out, the Society of Motor Manufacturing & Traders on Thursday said UK car production fell by 13% last month compared with a year ago, sparking "considerable concern".
The industry body said domestic demand was down by 18%, while exports fell by 12% amid fluctuations in demand in some global markets. Some manufacturers were hit by the bad weather in March, the SMMT added.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "A double digit decline in car manufacturing for both home and overseas markets is of considerable concern."