London pre-open: FTSE to drop as multiple stocks go ex-dividend



LONDON (ShareCast) - City sources predict the FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) will open down 26 points from yesterday's close of 6,338, as a number of top tier companies went ex-dividend, including BP (LSE: BP.L - news) and Shell (LSE: RDSB.L - news) .

The main US equity benchmarks finished Tuesday's session on a 'mixed' footing, ahead of last night's State of the Union address from President Obama.

In his speech, Obama laid out plans for "reigniting" the US economy and its middle class, saying there needs to be a significant increase in the minimum wage. He also said that together with the EU the US would start negotiations regarding a bilateral transatlantic trade deal, something that places trade back at the heart of the country's plans to boost the growth of its industrial economies.

On the cards in the UK today is the Bank of England inflation report, while across the Atlantic investors can expect US retail sales, manufacturing inventories, import and export price index readings, as well as business inventories.

As regards the former, this is a part of what Barclays Research had to say "The main issue for the monetary policy committee (MPC (KOSDAQ: 050540.KQ - news) ) - and Governor King in particular - is how to manage expectations on the back of this. Sir Mervyn is likely to want to downplay the possibility of further stimulus, because the inflation outlook doesn't warrant it, but he will also want to avoid a marked rates sell-off and a strengthening in Sterling, as the recovery is not well enough established to withstand a tightening in financial conditions."

In UK company news, oil and gas exploration and production company Salamander Energy (Other OTC: SALDF - news) has begun drilling on the North Kendang-1 exploration well in the South East Sangatta production sharing contract in which Salamander has a 75 per cent operated interest. The well will be drilled to a depth of around 2,600m, targeting gas and oil pay. The combined mean pre-drill estimate of prospective recoverable resources is about 770bn cubic feet and 91m barrels of oil.

Oil and gas giant Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW.L - news) has posted a four per cent rise in annual profits exceeding market expectations on the back of strong sales and output.
Profits before tax reached £1.11bn for the year to December 31st, up from £1.07bn the previous year, beating analysts' forecasts of £696.30m. Results were boosted by sales revenues of £2.34bn, a 2.0% increase from £2.30bn in 2011.

Data centre operator Telecity posted a robust set of full year results and enters 2013 with a strong recurring revenue base. Adjusted EBITDA rose 22% to £129.5m for the year ended December 31st 2012 while revenue for the period increased 18% to £283m. Adjusted diluted earnings per share climbed 28.6% to 31p.