Good morning. The FTSE 100 is set to tumble at the open as a risk-off mood grips global markets.
Meanwhile the pound edged toward $1.42 on reports Chancellor Rishi Sunak could extend stamp duty holidays on property deals by another three months.
5 things to start your day
1) BT to upgrade mobile signals in 500 rural areas: More than 500 areas across the countryside will be upgraded to 4G coverage, handing relief to thousands of homes and businesses.
2) Investor backlash over bonuses at firms taking furlough cash: Association says bonuses paid to directors that availed of direct taxpayer support or investor emergency cash injections must have clear rationale.
3) HSBC to slash office space by 40pc: The bank has said it will slash around 8.6m sq ft of office space, and boss Noel Quinn singled out London as where reductions could be made.
4) Third of FTSE 350 directors are women: Women now hold one in three board positions at the UK’s 350 largest listed companies in a major milestone for City equality.
5) Banks urged to shift clearing out of London in leaked document: Brussels has ordered major banks to explain why they are not shifting lucrative euro derivative trading activity out of London.
What happened overnight
Bond markets steadied, the U.S. dollar fell and stocks edged ahead on Wednesday after central banks from Washington to Wellington vowed to keep monetary policy loose for a long time, giving investors enough confidence to seek out riskier assets.
US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told Congress on Tuesday the economy remained “a long way” from employment and inflation goals and that rates would stay low and bond buying proceed apace until there was “substantial further progress”.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand on Wednesday made no changes to its rates or bond purchase programme either and said policy will need to remain stimulatory until inflation is sustained at 2% and employment hits maximum levels.
Taken together, it was enough to reassure investors that authorities won’t rush to raise rates even if inflation accelerates.
Coming up today
Corporate: Lloyds, Metro Bank (Full-year results); Paragon Banking (AGM)
Economics: GDP (GER); new home sales (US)