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FTSE 100 makes tepid start on a busy day for blue-chip results as Fed worries weigh

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The FTSE 100 made another insipid start to proceedings on busy day for corporate news.

Neither Wall Street nor Asia provided much in the way of direction as traders opted to stay on the side-lines ahead of a two-day meeting of the US Federal Reserve.

The gathering place against a rapidly improving economic backdrop. This has created an element of uncertainty around the central bank’s policy, which may zero in on the nascent inflation threat, heralding an emergence from the era of ultra-low interest rates.

Back here in the UK, the recovery in the fortunes of HSBC (LON:HSBA) appears to have largely been anticipated by the market, with the shares nudging up barely a percentage point in the opening exchanges.

“HSBC will not transform its fortunes overnight, but the improving economic outlook has provided a welcome boost to its aspirations,” said Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor.

“In particular, the release of US$400 million of impairments is a sign of optimism, especially in the UK where the situation has markedly improved from the perspective of poor performing loans.”

More warmly received by the market than HSBC’s update were the latest results from BP (LON:BP.), which were up 2.5% after a better-than-expected quarterly performance.

Copper giant Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) led the Footsie with a 3.5% gain after the price of the red metal shot to a 10-year high.

6.55 am: Languid start predicted 

The FTSE 100 is predicted to continue its languorous way on Tuesday after a subdued US session overnight.

After making leisurely progress over the past five days, London’s blue-chip stocks should start roughly flat around the 6,963 level they finished the previous day, according to spread betters on the IG platform.

Trading was mixed for the major Wall Street indices last night, with the Dow Jones falling 61 points or 0.2%, while the S&P 500 inched up 0.2% and the Nasdaq was led 0.9% higher by the big tech guns ahead of a frenetic week of earnings.

After hours, Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) reported a 1,850% increase in earnings per share and a US$101mln gain on its bitcoin investment but that was still nowhere near enough to beat the Street’s estimates, with the stock falling in aftermarket trading.

Closer to home, Europe’s largest lender by asset, HSBC PLC (LON:HSBA), went one better when it released its first-quarter results in Hong Kong a few hours ago, smashing analysts’ forecasts.

Pre-tax profit jumped 79% during the first quarter, well above the market’s expectations, even though the top line remained sluggish due to low-interest rates. 

Soon, we’ll also have more results, including from Premier Inn owner Whitbread PLC (LON:WTB), BP PLC (LON:BP.), AVEVA Group PLC (LON:AVV), IWG PLC (LON:IWG) and PZ Cussons PLC (LON:PZC).

Markets are likely to remain subdued due to the upcoming US Federal Reserve meeting and the big tech results week.

Furthermore, as said market analyst Michael Hewson, concerns about the coronavirus pandemic will not go away: “The resilience of equity markets, particularly in the US is in marked contrast to rising concerns about the situation in India which is looking absolutely horrific, and is likely to get a lot worse before it gets better, the consequences of which could well ripple out beyond India’s borders.”

6.50am: Early Markets – Asia / Australia

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mostly lower on Tuesday as investors await cues from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting, which begins today, and more earnings.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 0.14% while the Shanghai Composite in China slipped 0.41%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell 0.28% and South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.37%.

Shares in Australia declined, with the S&P/ASX 200 trading 0.27% lower.

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Proactive Australia news:

Horizon Minerals Ltd (ASX:HRZ) has received further validation of the golden potential of Boorara Gold Project, 15 kilometres east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder in the Western Australian Goldfields, with an updated independent mineral resource estimate delivering a 34% increase in grade.

archTIS (ASX:AR9) recorded a successful March quarter with its overall revenue, recurring revenue and gross profit all increasing significantly.

Cirralto Ltd (ASX:CRO) recorded 25% growth in cash receipts and 12.5% growth in customers, its March quarterly report has revealed.

MGC Pharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:MXC) (LON:MXC) (OTCMKTS:MGCLF) (FRA:H5O) has completed arguably its best-ever quarter, with a London Stock Exchange (LSE) listing and record sales highlighting a busy period.

Buru Energy Limited (ASX:BRU) (OTCMKTS:BRNGF) (FRA:BUD) has increased production from the Ungani Oilfield JV onshore in the Canning Basin in the southwest Kimberley region of Western Australia to in excess of 1,000 barrels of oil a day (bopd).

Pan Asia Metals Ltd (ASX:PAM) is well-positioned to advance current assets and secure additional ones as it moves into the next growth phase following a successful listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in October 2020.

St George Mining Ltd (ASX:SGQ) (FRA:S0G) has used recent geophysical surveys to identify multiple new nickel-copper sulphide targets at its flagship high-grade Mt Alexander Project in WA’s north-eastern Goldfields.

Great Southern Mining Ltd (ASX:GSN) has identified and ranked 21 new gold targets after evaluating a newly acquired regional exploration database in the Duketon Belt that include more than 12,000 drill holes and 24,000 soil samples.

Chain pubs, restaurants sales only down 24% in first week of reopening despite outdoor-only rule

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