U.S. Earnings, Debt Ceiling Hopes Support FTSE

Stellar performance from Apple and optimism on overnight developments in U.S. debt ceiling negotiations lead to a second day of gains for LSE-listed blue chips

Morningstar.co.uk Editors 20 July, 2011 | 6:13PM
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Solid corporate earnings from the U.S. exceeded market expectations and propelled gains in European equities for a second trading session in a row. Risk appetite was further supported by promising developments in U.S. debt ceiling negotiations and signals from the Bank of England that a rate hike may be further delayed.

On Wednesday, the FTSE 100 index added 1.1% or 64 points to 5,584 and the FTSE 250 index moved 0.9% or 109 points ahead to 11,701.

In London, the Bank of England released minutes from the latest Monetary Policy Committee hearing. It appears the committee has been markedly more concerned over the current and future pace of U.K recovery – a sentiment that prompted market analysts to push back expectations of a rate hike.

Over in Brussels, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned that should the eurozone members fail to address the Greek debt crisis effectively, “the negative consequences will be felt in all corners of Europe and beyond,” seemingly warning against the type of decision-making reluctance we heard from German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this week.

Across the Atlantic, a $3.7 trillion debt reduction plan put forward by the so-called “Gang of Six” senators received positive reaction by President Obama late on Tuesday and has become a ray of 11th-hour hope for debt ceiling negotiations in Washington. As European debt talks quieted before the crucial EU Summit on Thursday, news of potential resolution coming from the U.S. were well received by investors in London.

Supporting investment sentiment even more, Apple’s (AAPL) earnings showed an above-expectations 125% year-on-year jump in earnings, followed by solid results by Abbott and Altria. To reflect Apple's strong performance, Morningstar analysts will likely raise their full-year revenue estimate for the company. The iPad and iPhone maker’s stellar results boosted interest in London-listed iPhone chip maker ARM Holdings (ARM) and the company added 4.9%.

Heavyweight financials Barclays (BARC), Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), up 3.1%-5.2%, bounced back from recent lows all the way to the top of the FTSE 100 list of risers.

Also among Wednesday’s winners, ITV (ITV) added 3.9% on the back of an upbeat note by UBS.

Meanwhile, mining giant BHP Billiton (BLT) added 1.7% after pleasing markets with its annual production report. Peers Eurasia Natural Resources (ENRC) and Xstrata (XTA) added 2.1% and 1.5%, respectively, amid today’s uptick in risk appetite.

On Wall Street, headline equity indices failed to remain in positive territory at the time of writing, as support from corporate earnings and was outweighed by a late hold up in sovereign debt negotiations and downbeat macroeconomic data. In June, sales of existing U.S. homes slipped to a seven-month low and missed expectations.

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