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Investment market update

Early Trading

UK stocks have opened flat this morning after the rally in global equities levelled out yesterday.

World Markets

Asian stock rose to an eight-week high, led by Japanese shares, as the yen weakens. The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index extends a three-day rally as all 10 industry groups advance, paced by finance and materials. Electronics giant Toshiba rose by almost 10% on reports it had secured a further £1.6bn in bank loans for its restructuring efforts.

US stocks gained slightly, extending their eight-week highs, with banks and energy shares rallying for a second day as improving data supported optimism on the economy. Payroll firm ADP reported the US economy added 214,000 jobs in February, better than the 190,000 expected by analysts.

UK stocks were little changed, after climbing to their highest level this year. The FTSE 100 Index fell less than 0.1% at the close in London. Anglo American was the biggest riser, adding 6.7%, while Standard Chartered rose 5.9%.

Headlines

UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande will unveil a £1.5bn cooperative drone project when the two leaders meet in Amiens today. Britain and France will commit £750m each to build a prototype unmanned aircraft that will be the “most advanced vehicle of its kind in Europe,” Cameron’s office said. BAE Systems Plc, Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc and Dassault Aviation SA are among companies expected to benefit from the project, dubbed Future Combat Air System.

Brazil’s central bank has kept interest rates on hold as the risk of tipping the country deeper into recession outweighed concerns over rising double-digit inflation. The central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee kept the benchmark Selic rate unchanged at a near decade high of 14.25%.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc is lining up assets for a $30 billion divestment program that may extend from the US and Trinidad to India following its record takeover of BG Group Plc.

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