LONDON (ShareCast) – 1117: US stock futures are currently pointing to a flat start ahead of the non-farm payrolls report, with the S&P 500 unchanged and the Dow and Nasdaq up just 0.1%. Forecasts are for a 230,000 gain in NFPs in December after a reading of 252,000 in November, while the jobless rate is expected to remain at 5.6%. The figures are due out at 13:30. 1032: Shares (Berlin: DI6.BE – news) in Sky (Other OTC: BSYBF – news) and BT are down 0.7% and 0.5% respectively with the auction for Premier League rights scheduled to kick off today. According to Sam Hart from Charles Stanley (LSE: CAY.L – news) , “results [are] expected to be announced a few days later”. Hart predicts “aggressive bidding” from BT Sports in the auction, “so consider the most likely outcome to be for Sky to be awarded a lower number of games at a higher average cost per game”. However, he said he was “relatively sanguine” about such an outcome, with the importance of PL rights to Sky’s business overestimated by investors.
0930: The UK trade deficit widened to £2.9bn in December from a revised £1.8bn the month before. Analysts were expecting a narrower gap of £1.7bn.
0807: UK stocks have begun the morning moving lower with stock in Tate&Lyle cratering after the company’s most recent trading update. There continues to be some take-over chatter surrounding the likes of Hunting. Nevertheless, traders are expected to limit their moves ahead of this afternoon’s US non-farm payrolls report. The latest Spanish industrial production numbers have come in on the weak side. On the other hand, German industrial output data for December appears to have cheered at least some analysts. Acting as a backdrop, markets are keeping an eye on the latest developments in Ukraine. FTSE 100 at 6,842.33.