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FTSE 100 set to jump after tumbles yesterday as Barclays bonus plans come under scrutiny

Jim Armitage
·3-min read

The FTSE 100 was set to jump today after yesterday’s bizarre stumble which saw tech companies suddenly slide in what some traders were calling a “flash crash”.

In fact, the sharp fall was more of a flash wobble than a crash, triggered by a late morning slide in Wall Street futures - which indicate how the US markets are going to perform.

The futures market proved right, tech markets fell in the US and Europe followed suit, with the FTSE ending down 0.7%, or 46 points.

Today should be all-change, with markets pricing in a decent bounceback to wipe out most of that fall. The FTSE 100 will jump 43 points to 6957 if traders on the IG platform were right. With 68% of them betting before the market opened that it could go higher than that, it promised to be a day of healthy gains.

That could see a switchback into tech-led and lockdown stocks like home delivery giants Ocado and AO World, which both fell sharply yesterday.

Barclays shares will be in focus as it tries to convince investors it is right to be bumping up the amount of cash it sets aside to pay big bonuses to staff. Last week, chief executive Jes Staley set aside £335 million extra for the bonus pot for the first quarter for his investment bankers.

It’s optional whether he pays that all out, but markets have been taking a dim view, punishing the share price brutally on Friday.

His attempts to explain his thinking yesterday to analysts only led to more selling amid fears of a political backlash at a time when so many Brits have been suffering poverty from the Covid crisis.

Staley argues that if he doesn’t compete with the Wall Street banks on his turf, he’ll lose his top talent, and surely that argument holds some water no matter what the UK politicians are likely to say.

Given that he is the one UK bank with a proper investment banking arm, Barclays will get more political and media heat over the issue than Lloyds or NatWest, which shrunk their investment arms after the financial crisis.

Investors today, however, may feel that the weakness in the share price has gone too far and begin nibbling at Barclays stock again.

Commodities prices took off nicely yesterday, boosting mining and trading stocks as the economic news globally kept on improving, bar Italy and Spain, which are struggling so badly from the Covid impact on the tourism industry.

Today brings an update on the US economy with labour market data set to show April improving on the 517,000 new jobs created in March. Consensus among analysts is for a figure of around 850,000 in the ADP employment report.

A survey of the US services sector is also likely to be strong for April, helping sentiment in today’s expected market recovery.

CMC Markets was calling the German Dax index up 110 at 14,966. It was the sharpest faller in yesterday’s session. France’s CAC 40 is expected to open up 22 at 6273.

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