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Investment market update

Early Trading

UK stocks are expected to open higher this morning, with attention fixed on central bankers in the US and Europe. Last night, minutes were released from the latest Federal Reserve meeting, showing that the committee were split on any interest rate rise. Later today, the European Central Bank will release its minutes and Mario Draghi will speak publicly.

World Markets

Most Asian stocks climbed, while US stocks rose the most in almost a month, as Federal Reserve minutes affirmed that policy makers aren’t in a hurry to raise interest rates amid persistent concerns about slowing growth abroad. The Japanese yen advanced to a 17-month high as Japanese officials’ expressed concern over the strength of the currency, while the dollar fell with US Treasuries. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rebounded from a two-day selloff with health-care shares rallying.

Gains in commodity producers pushed the UK’s FTSE 100 Index higher for the second time in three sessions. Anglo American Plc and BHP Billiton Ltd. rose more than 1.6%. Shire Plc rose 2.7% as Bank of America Corp. said it may become an acquisition target if new US tax proposals fully derailed a deal between Pfizer Inc. and Allergan Plc. Banks also advanced, with Barclays Plc and Standard Chartered Plc up at least 1.5%.

Headlines

This morning, Marks & Spencer Group Plc reported that clothing sales fell less than analysts expected as it marked down fewer items, an early lift for new Chief Executive Officer Steve Rowe, whose job is to stem a four-year decline in that business.

Pfizer Inc. has been thwarted for the second time in less than two years in its pursuit of a transformative, tax-powered deal to position the biggest US drugmaker for long-term growth. Pfizer and Allergan Plc officially walked away from their $160 billion merger on Tuesday, an abrupt end to what would have been the largest-ever deal in the pharmaceutical industry. It’s also a turning point in the election-cycle debate in the US over corporate tax avoidance.

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