This morning UK services PMI for May rose to 53.5 and in doing so exceeded both the expected and previous prints. Coming just two days after the manufacturing equivalent which also beat consensus forecasts, the overall picture for the UK economy is fairly robust and shows little evidence of a slowdown in activity - as some had suggested leading up to polling day, despite recent surveys continuing to show the electorate as undecided. The FTSE is trading firmly higher, gaining more than 50 points so far whilst the pound is little changed on the day.
Oil majors lead the risers
BP and Royal Dutch Shell are amongst the best performing shares on the on the blue-chip index so far today as Brent oil has moved back above $50 a barrel. The move higher in crude comes after contrasting fundamental developments yesterday, with a failure once again from OPEC members to come to an agreement on measures to curb expanding levels of output. However, this failed to send prices lower before a drawdown in US inventories saw the market end the day close to its highs. Rolls Royce shares are also looking to end the week on a positive note as they trade higher on the day by more than 2% so far. On the whole, homebuilders are lagging today, with Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey the two worst performing stocks on the FTSE 100.
US data could hold the key
Despite there being several major macroeconomic events yesterday, the overall reaction was fairly subdued and focus now shifts to today’s US non-farm employment report as a possible catalyst to jolt the markets out of the doldrums. Trading volumes and volatility have dwindled of late, as is typical with this time of the year but the coming weeks still contain numerous events that have the potential to awaken either the bulls or bears from their summer slumber. Strong employment data this afternoon from across the pond could very well light the torch paper and pave the way for the FOMC to raise rates at a faster pace than the market currently expects, which would likely see a resumption of last year’s bull-run in the US dollar. This could prove decisive for stocks with major US indices currently residing just below crucial resistance levels.