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Investment market update

Early Trading

UK stocks are expected to open modestly higher this morning, as investors look ahead to the conclusion of the US Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting later today, the first since the rate increase announced in December.

World Markets

Most Asian stocks rose following Wall Street’s gain as investors looked ahead to the US Federal Reserve’s latest statement on interest rates and the economic outlook.

US stocks rose yesterday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average posting its strongest gain in more than seven weeks, amid better-than-forecast earnings from companies ranging from 3M Co. to Coach Inc. while energy shares rebounded with oil after a selloff Monday. Proctor & Gamble Co., 3M and Johnson & Johnson rose at least 2.5% after their quarterly profits beat analysts’ estimates.

UK stocks rose for the third time in four days, erasing an earlier drop after commodity and energy producers climbed with oil prices. Anglo American Plc, Glencore Plc and BHP Billiton Ltd. rose at least 4%. Lloyds Banking Group Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc added 2.5% or more, rebounding from Mondays drop.

Headlines

The Italian government and the European Commission agreed on a plan to help banks offload bad debt in a rescue deal that would not count as state aid because guarantees would be priced at market rate. The deal was announced after a meeting in Brussels between Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan and the European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

With oil trading near $30 a barrel, calls for orchestrated output cuts to quell global oversupply have intensified this week. However, none of the world’s largest producers, most notably Russia and Saudi Arabia, have shown they’re ready to make a move. OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri called on all countries, both inside and outside the group, to join efforts to revive oil prices. ‘It should be viewed as something OPEC and non-OPEC tackle together.’

Apple Inc has predicted its first revenue drop in 13 years and reported the slowest-ever increase in iPhone shipments as the critical Chinese market showed signs of weakening, suggesting the technology company’s period of exponential growth may be ending. Apple sold 74.8 million iPhones during the quarter, compared with 74.5 million a year ago.

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