ADVFN Morning London Market Report: Wednesday 17 Feb 2016

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London open: Stocks gain ahead of UK jobs data

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London stocks advanced on Wednesday ahead the release of UK jobs data which is expected to show a fall in unemployment.

The Office for National Statistics at 0930 GMT is expected to reveal the unemployment rate fell to 5.0% in the three months to December from 5.1% previously.

UK employers may have added 225,000 jobs during the period, compared to 267,000 the prior three months, according to analysts’ estimates.

Jobless claims in January are projected to have fallen 3,000 while the claimant count is predicted to have risen 2.3% last month.

However, average weekly earnings are forecast to ease to 1.9% year-on-year growth from 2% growth previously.

The Bank of England highlighted the slowdown in salary raises in its Inflation Report earlier in the month, saying growth had “eased significantly” more than anticipated. The central bank now expects average weekly earnings to increase by 3% this year, down from the 3.75% it predicted three months ago.

The BoE also took a slowdown in wage growth into account in deciding to keep interest rates unchanged this month.

Meanwhile, oil prices rallied in morning trade after global oil producers agreed to freeze oil production at January levels. The agreement came after a meeting in Doha between Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali al-Naimi, his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak and representatives from Venezuela and Qatar.

“Not only has production been frozen at January 2016 record levels, which will have a minuscule impact on the excessive oversupply, the meaningless freeze is only valid on the premise of other producers joining in,” said FXTM research analyst Lukman Otunga.

“While Russia and Saudi Arabia may be commended for their ability to take advantage of the explosively volatile oil markets which have allowed expectations of production cuts to translate into speculative boosts, investors are losing faith in the ability of oil producers to cooperate and as such this should result in more selloffs.”

In economic data still to come, Eurozone construction output will be published at 1000 GMT, US housing starts are due at 1330 GMT and US manufacturing and industrial output figures will be released at 1415 GMT.

The Federal Reserve also releases the minutes of its 26-27 January policy meeting at 1900 GMT, providing more details on its decision to hold interest rates steady. The minutes may offer clues on the next policy change after raising the benchmark interest rate in December for the first time in nearly a decade.

In company news, Astrazeneca’s shares rallied after winning fast-track US regulatory approval for a particular application of its most promising cancer drugs.

Glencore jumped as it announced it had signed a new revolving credit facility to replace its existing $8.45bn revolving credit facility to reduce its $30bn debt load.

Utilitywise gained as the utility cost management consultancy said its performance in the six months to the end January was in line with management expectations and the full year should also be in line.

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