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Equities flat ahead of NFP
Having struggled for direction yesterday equity indices seem to have decided that the path of least resistance is to the downside this morning. The FTSE is marginally higher but remains below the 6450 level that ultimately marks the line in the sand between a return to this year’s highs and a consolidation.

Today’s UK macro data has neither vindicated nor absolved the Bank of England’s dovish path this morning bringing with it a fairly mixed bag but hardly all that impressive.
The trade deficit narrowed by a greater scope than forecast to £9.4bn in September; exports increased to £24bn (up £600m) while imports declined by 900m. The pound remains under pressure today, relinquishing the $1.52 level and bouncing with conviction yesterday off the 0.70p against the single currency. It would seem that the prospect of additional stimulus from the ECB has curtailed any degree of confidence in the UK economy or indeed any notion that any near term price pressure will be to the upside.
Copper prices continue to dive lower this morning and presently trades at $2.25/lb while oil is basically sitting there and doing very little up marginally on the day to $48.15/bbl.

Gold, having taken a bath over the past number of days on speculation that it’s lack of yield was to become even more pronounced has found a temporary bottom for the moment.
The dollar is king once again and there is a general acceptance out there that this reign will continue even if today’s jobs numbers lack fireworks.
Some equity highlights.

Rio Tinto (+2.22%) the mudslide in Brazil was initially a barrier to upside for the stock but the company expects to maintain its output strategy in iron ore unit.

IAG (+2.58%) has upgraded its target for 2016 to 2020 earnings growth to over 12% a year, underlining the group's long-term confidence. IAG said ahead of an investor event that it would aim for average annual earnings per share growth of over 12%.This is up from the 10%-plus figure previously targeted.

AstraZeneca (-0.39%) agreed to buy U.S biotech company ZS Pharma for $2.7 billion following its upward revision to FY forecast yesterday.

Inmarsat (+1%) : better than expected Q3 sales of $323m against the exp. $318m and a jump in profit on the back of its aviation division; it has formed a strategic partnership with Deutsche Telekom to develop the ground component of its European Aviation Network.

CRH (+3%) following yesterday’s rating cut from BOFA, the stock is top of the leader board this morning. The UK’s housing shortage and rising population makes it a positive for materials providers. The average PT for the stock is 2015p

STANCHART (-0.77%) Shares slumped in Hong Kong after Fitch Ratings downgraded the bank, citing the outlook for the lender’s profits and asset quality. (BB)

BHP Billiton (-4.68%) Following a 2.7% decline in Sydney trading. Iron-ore tailings dams owned by two of the world’s biggest miners burst in southeast Brazil on Thursday, flooding a valley and burying dozens of homes in mudslides, while reportedly killing at least 15 people.

Burberry (-1.81%) falling on the back of a weak update from luxury group Richemont. FT ‘’Richemont's sales in the Asia-Pacific region dropped by 3 per cent in the six months to September 30 although currency fluctuations helped. On a so-called "constant exchange rates" basis, sales in Asia-Pacific were down 17 per cent during the half year.

Richemont said it suffered a "significant" sales decline in Hong Kong and Macau although sales in mainland China returned to growth.’’

Diageo (+0.24%) UBS have a Buy rating and PT of 2,150p on the stock – ‘’Expect positive message from Investor Day We believe Diageo's forthcoming Investor Day (11th November, with management dinner on 10th) will be a positive catalyst for the stock. We anticipate: (i) a reassuring message on sales and margins in North America (45% of EBIT), (ii) guidance for improving trends in the Emerging Markets as depletions stabilise and de-stocking ends, &, (iii) further detail on group wide productivity initiatives which should give the market more confidence in Diageo's margin targets. Following five weeks of global marketing, we also note that investor sentiment appears to be turning more positive on Diageo.’’