A funny old session took place yesterday as the market looked like it would continue the rally that commenced on Monday only to reverse the move higher slowly but surely throughout the session.
It was the oil and gas sector that dragged on the FTSE as a Total platform gas leak entered its third day. Memories of BP die hard and investors sold other members of the sector in sympathy as Total’s shares dropped over 6%, recording its worst fall since the crash of 2008. The fact that the leak could take longer to resolve than the BP disaster is a worry in itself and the disruption to production could have a knock effect for prices as other nearby rigs take precautionary measures and close down too.
Bernanke made another speech yesterday and just as he was acclaimed to have contributed to the gains on Monday he’s bearish comments on the economy didn’t ingratiate himself with the bulls. The US markets sold off later on in the session and that has rubbed off on Asian markets and European markets on the open. The FTSE is lower by some 15 to 20 points to around 5850. A bit of concern surrounding Spain has also contributed to the bearishness of the past 24 hours as the European sovereign debt crisis sights swing towards one of the bigger economies of the eurozone. All this is keeping gains in check and yet again we see the FTSE move sideways in this painful move of the last couple of months between the 5950-75 and 5750. At this rate we may not see the bid higher by bulls as we approach the end of the first quarter which looks like it might end on rather a sour note. But who can blame the bulls when you look at the gains so far this year as the German Dax is up around 20% and the FTSE some 5%. Not the best performance ever by the London market!
On the economic data front we get the final release of Q4’s poor GDP numbers which might just possibly come in for a revision upwards since recent services data has been better than expected on the whole. But then that’s rather wishful thinking! Consensus for Q1 of 2012 is that we will narrowly avoid a double dip recession and at the moment calls are for the economy to grow about 0.2%. It maybe avoiding a technical recession but it means a flat lining economy for the past six months which is nothing to write home about. So we await that first release of Q1 GDP on 25th April and we can only hope that the recent calming of the European storm and uptick in confidence numbers will actually translate into a meaningful growth recovery in the second half of the year.
Also we see the release of German inflation numbers which much to the dislike of all UK consumers is a great deal lower than ours. This is expected to show a rise of 0.4% on the month meaning for the Germans annual inflation is just over 2% as opposed to our 3%.
Then the US releases durable goods orders which are expected to rise with the help of aircraft orders rising to their highest level since 2008. This figure can sometimes be a market mover, so keep eyes peeled at lunch time.
Onto the currency markets and sterling has been attempting to get itself back above the 1.6000 level in recent days taking advantage of a slight change in fortunes for the US dollar. As Bernanke has been touting the idea that further stimulus is by no means off the cards the US dollar has come under a bit of pressure allowing the likes of sterling and the euro to gain back some lost ground. The rejection by cable of the 1.6000 level has brought it back down to 1.5950 at the time of writing and on the hourly chart this move has formed a bit of a double top over the near term which could allow the bears to just GBP/USD to test 1.5900 and possibly 1.5800.
Gold has also been a beneficiary of Bernanke’s comments in recent days as the precious metal made a run for the 1700 level but has given up ground taking it back to 1676 at the time of writing. Major support around 1640 has just about kept the bulls interested, but the recent strength might be seen as a little bear squeeze rather than an indication that we could be seeing the beginning of a more concerted move to the upside. Support is seen at 1671/63/55 meanwhile resistance is at 1697/1705.