Good morning. The FTSE 100 is set to fall as investors shrugged off Microsoft’s bumper results to focus on the impact of Covid on the global economy.
On Tuesday, the IMF downgraded Europe’s growth outlook as its vaccine programme continues to struggle.
5 things to start your day
2) Tim Martin pockets £50m in new Wetherspoons share sale: Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin has an extra £50m in his pocket after selling almost 4.4m shares in the pub chain on Tuesday.
3) 600,000 small firms on the brink as Covid restrictions bite: There was a sharp rise in companies in ‘significant financial distress’ at end of 2020 as business leaders urge Chancellor to take further action.
4) Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in turf war over rival satellite plans: The two moguls’ rival satellite companies, SpaceX and Kuiper, have asked US regulators to decide their claims to the same orbital territory.
5) Daily commute must evolve to lure ‘Covid aristocracy’: Lockdown has derailed plans for home workers to return to the office. But the commute is not dead – even if some are reluctant to return.
What happened overnight
Asian equities slipped on Wednesday as investors looked to the Federal Reserve’s guidance on its monetary policy while futures for US tech shares jumped after strong earnings from Microsoft.
MSCI’s gauge of Asian ex-Japan shares slipped 0.3pc, dragged lower by profit-taking in resource shares as some investors have grown wary of stretched valuations.
But Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.2pc and the region’s tech-heavy markets, such as South Korea and Taiwan eked out small gains, helped by 0.5pc rises in Nasdaq futures after Microsoft’s brisk quarterly results.
Microsoft shares rose 4pc in extended trading after its Azure cloud computing services grew more 50pc. The results boosted optimism for other U.S. tech giants, including Apple and Facebook, which announce quarterly results later in the day.
Meanwhile Goldman Sachs cut its CEO David Solomon’s 2020 salary by $10 million to $17.5 million because of the bank’s role in the 1MDB Malaysian bribery scandal, according to documents filed Tuesday.
Coming up today
Corporate: Brewin Dolphin, Fresnillo, SCS, Tullow (Trading statements)
Economics: Industrial profits (China); consumer confidence (France); durable goods orders, Federal Reserve decision (US)