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April 2, 2015

FTSE 100 set for flat start ahead of the long weekend

An element of caution is evident on the last day of trading before the long weekend.

Tomorrow will see the publication of the market moving US jobless figures for March, which could explain why the signs point to an indecisive start.

Spread betting quotes indicate the FTSE 100 will open a point or two up from last night's close of 6810.

US markets closed down but off their worst levels last night, with the Dow down 78 points at 17,698 and the S&P 500 down eight at 2,060. The NASDAQ Composite shed 21 points at 4,880.

In Asia, it has been a good day for the bulls in Japan with the Nikkei 225 storming 376 points (+2.0%) higher to 19,411.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was 142 points firmer at 25,224 at the fag-end of the trading session, despite the HSBC Hong Kong Purchasing Managers' Index for March falling below the 50 point level that represents the cross-over point between expansion and contraction.

The last day of trading before Easter back in London will see focus on retail bellwether Marks & Spencer (LON:MKS), where the consensus view seems to be that performance from a year ago is soft enough to give the company a shot at bringing to an end a long streak of year-on-year like-for-like (LFL) sales declines in its General Merchandise (GM) division.

Investec is forecasting a quarter-on-quarter improvement in GM sales, thanks to some soft comparative figures from a year earlier.

It is going for a LFL sales decline in the fourth quarter of 0.4% in the GM division, which is a substantial improvement on the 5.8% decline in the third quarter.

Two more big names from the retail world - Dunelm (LON:DNLM) and Booker (LON:BOK) - are also reporting, while sweeteners firm Tate & Lyle issues a trading statement.

Among the small caps, Cloud-based video editing firm Forbidden Technologies (LON:FBT) issues full-year results. @MasterMetals MasterMetals Blog

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