Market overview: US stock futures point to weak start


LONDON (ShareCast) - 1221: US stock futures are pointing to losses of around 0.4 per cent on Wall Street as investors continue to scale back risk amid ongoing tensions in Ukraine. Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS-PB - news) is also dampening sentiment Stateside after cutting its forecast for US economic growth in the first quarter from 1.5 per cent to 1.0 per cent. Ford shares have fallen sharply after profits came in short of analysts' forecasts.

1031: Russia's central bank has unexpectedly raised its main policy rate by 50 basis points to 7.5 per cent.

1029: The latest retail sales numbers are supportive of expectations of quarter-on-quarter growth in UK GDP of 0.9 per cent, as the consensus has now come to expect. That would mark the quickest pace of growth since quarter two of 2010, Unicredit Research points out.

0930: UK retail sales edged higher by 0.1 per cent month-over-month in March, well above the 0.4 per cent drop expected by analysts. However, the previous month's gain was revised lower, to show a rise of 1.3 per cent, instead of the 1.7 per cent gain originally thought. Even so, the year-on-year rise came in at 4.2 per cent, also ahead of the 3.8% expected. Excluding automobiles, sales were 0.4 per cent lower over the month, versus the 0.5 per cent forecast.

0853: Stocks have begun the session moving slightly lower on the back of the simmering tensions in Ukraine. The latest reports cite Russia's Foreign Minister as having stated that his country is looking for a "synchronised" de-escalation in the stand-off. Pearson (NYSE: PSO - news) and William Hill (Other OTC: WIMHF - news) are now doing best on the 'top-flight' index. Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW.L - news) is at the bottom of the pile after announcing that it has abandoned its Tapendar-1 well. HSBC has been downgraded to 'underweight' from 'overweight' over at Morgan Stanley (Berlin: DWD.BE - news) . The latest Japanese consumer price data out overnight has come in slightly below forecasts at first glance, although the initial reaction in the Japanese Yen appeared to be rather muted. FTSE 100 down 22 to 6,681.

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