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UK and European markets start year in the red

UK and European stock markets are set to start the year in the red, after ending 2009 close to their highs of the year.

GFT is quoting the FTSE 100 index to open down as much as 39 points from Friday’s close, at a level of 5,373. The German DAX is also expected to start lower, down 11 points at 5,946, and the French CAC is forecast to open down 20 points at 3,916.

INVESTORS WARY OF STOCKS

After such a bumper year it is some- what inevitable that we may see a certain degree of mounting trepidation from investors wary of stock markets which many predict are on the verge of a correction, with forecasts of any- where from a 10 to 30 per cent sell-off now widespread. It is with that prospect in the back of traders' minds that sets us up for a negative start this morning. The non-farm payrollls number is out from the States on Friday, and the markets’ subsequent reactions thereto may well give a good indication for what we can expect in the coming months as the market prices in ever-growing expectations of impending interest rate rises in the US.

Closer to home, sales updates from Marks and Spencer and Next could well surprise to the upside after shoppers seemingly hit the High Street in their droves over the holiday period, although the cheer may be tempered by the possibility that these are one-off "beat-the-VAT-rise" inflated numbers.

Martin Slaney, Director, Global Dealing Operations, GFT