London pre-open: Futures flat, but BP and HSBC beat
Stocks are being called to start the session slightly higher on the back of better-than-expected results out of BP and HSBC.
In the background, investors were waiting on the US central bank's latest policy guidance with the Federal Reserve's two day policy meeting set to get underway later on Tuesday.
"In spite of the strong finish for US markets yesterday and a subdued Asia session, today's European open looks set to be another subdued one as the latest Federal Reserve meeting gets under way, with little expectation of any distinct change of tone from what we saw in March, with the US dollar expected to come under further pressure in the short term," Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK was telling clients ahead of the opening bell in London.
As of 0728 BST, futures tracking London's top-flight index were up by 1.5 points at 6,935.
To take note of, US carmaker Tesla's shares ended the after-hours session in New York down by 2.49% after the release of a first quarter earnings report that was again boosted by exceptionals, including the sale of $780m of regulatory credits and $101m of Bitcoin.
On the economic side of things, the year-to-date and year-on-year rate of growth in Chinese industrial profits slowed from 179% in February to 92.3% in March.
Nevertheless, Freya Beamish at Pantheon Macroeconomics said the slowdown in the in the annual rate was best ignored due to "wild" base effects. Indeed, if anything there was "a sturdy pick up" in March month-on-month, she estimated.
"The main question mark is over the extent to which China will benefit from U.S. stimulus, as without that, the manufacturing sector should be slowing."
Also overnight rate-setters at the Bank of Japan bumped up its 2021 GDP growth forecast for the country from 3.9% to 4.0%.
Stateside, the main risk event of the session will be the US Treasury's auction of seven-year debt.
On home shores, the Confederation of British Industry will release the results of its Distributive Trades survey for April at 1100 BST.
BP to buy back shares, HSBC beats
British energy company BP on Tuesday reported better-than-expected first quarter profits on the back of higher oil prices as it hit its debt reduction target early and said it would resume share buybacks in the second quarter to the tune of $500m. BP’s first-quarter underlying replacement cost profit, the company’s measure of net profit, came in at $2.6bn compared with a $115m in the final quarter of 2020 and $791m a year earlier. Analysts had expected a first-quarter profit of $1.4bn. Net debt was cut by $5.6bn to reach $33.3bn at the end of the quarter, below BP’s $35m target and a year ahead of schedule.
HSBC saw first quarter profits more than double versus the year ago period, boosted by a reversal in its credit losses, profits across all major divisions, and with its European and US operations back in the black. For the three months to 31 March, the lender posted adjusted pre-tax profits of $6.4bn. That compared positively to the $4.3bn anticipated by the analyst consensus. Commenting on the results, HSBC boss, Noel Quinn, said: "Global Banking and Markets had a good quarter, and we saw solid business growth in strategic areas, including Asia wealth and trade finance, and mortgages in Hong Kong and the UK."
Halma has acquired North Carolina-based PeriGen, it announced on Tuesday, which provides artificial intelligence software with an automated early warning platform during labour. The FTSE 100 company said cash consideration for PeriGen was $58m (£42m) on a cash and debt free basis, which would be funded from Halma's existing facilities. It said PeriGen's unaudited revenue for the year ended 31 March was about $20m, with return on sales slightly above Halma's target range of between 18% and 22%.