While a 20ish point fall after the bell is no great loss, it does show a flicker of doubt from an index that has otherwise seen a constant, if incremental, build on its record peak since the start of the New Year. Still, at 7275 the FTSE is on track to hit 7300 by the end of the week, as long as it doesn’t contract a case of the Dow Jones’ landmark level-avoiding shyness. As for the pound, a flat open against the euro and a 0.1% drop against the dollar means the currency is stuck at its current 2 month to 10 week lows.
Some of this timidity may be dispelled once the UK’s latest manufacturing and industrial production figures are dealt with later in the morning. The former is forecast to rise to 0.6% from -0.9% last month, while the latter is set to see a similar bounce from -1.3% to 0.8%. If these estimates prove to be accurate then sterling may be in for a boost, something that would likely help prevent the FTSE from pushing any higher.
The UK supermarket sector remained buoyant this Wednesday, the key stocks building on Tuesday’s Morrisons’ inspired gains. Leading the charge this time was Sainsbury’s; the orange company posted a 0.1% rise in third quarter like-for-like sales, with a 4% LFL increase at Argos. That former figure may sound like nothing, especially compared the growth posted by Morrisons yesterday. However, given that analysts had expected a 0.8% contraction any positive reading was welcome; so welcome, in fact, that Sainsbury’s jumped by 5.5%, taking the supermarket to an 8 month high in the process.