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Investment market update

Early Trading

UK equities are expected to open slightly lower this morning, with little direction being provided by Wall Street or markets in Asia as UK investors look ahead to Super Thursday; a raft of economic data released by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

World Markets

Asian stocks rose, led by Japan, as a weaker yen boosted earnings prospects. Stronger earnings in Japan helped boost shares while Australian equities dropped as one of the nation’s biggest banks announced a share sale. Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. rose 4.1% after saying it will buy back as much as 100 billion yen of shares.

US stocks rose for the first time in four days, amid better-than-estimated earnings from technology companies and as commodities producers rallied. Apple Inc. climbed for the first time in six sessions, up 2%.

UK stocks gained nearly 1% on Wednesday, with mining shares among the top risers. Shares in miners rebounded as investors looked for bargains following recent falls in the sector.  Rio Tinto rose 3.9% and BHP Billiton was 3.6% higher.

Headlines

Markets are on alert ahead of the UK’s new economic touchstone, a Super Thursday of economic data. From today, the monthly rate decision and the minutes of the Bank’s MPC meeting will be released together, without the normal fortnightly gap. Both are key indicators for the whole economy.

With Zurich Insurance Group AG on the verge of pursuing its biggest acquisition in more than a decade, Europe is poised to add to the consolidation that is sweeping the industry globally. RSA Insurance Group Plc shares surged almost 20% on July 28 after Zurich said it was considering an offer for the London-based provider of property and auto coverage.

Commuters and tourists in London face a day of travel chaos because of a strike which has closed the underground. Tube services ground to a halt on Wednesday evening and will not resume until Friday.

Standard Chartered Plc gave its strongest indication to date that it’ll keep its 153-year-old British base after George Osborne pledged to cut the bank’s taxes. A review of headquarters is “not a top priority for us right now,” Chief Executive Officer Bill Winters told reporters.

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