It's been a softer open for markets in Europe after a weak lead from Asia, after last nights Fed meeting saw the Fed commit to their new policy of average inflation targeting, without really committing to anything new.

The commitment to keep rates low until 2023 was certainly welcome, but it wasn't unexpected, and while the Fed's language was more dovish, their room for manoeuvre was always likely to be fairly limited ahead of the US election in a few weeks' time.

European car makers have slipped back after car sales for August in Europe showed a 17% fall, following on from a 3% decline in July, with Volkswagen and Renault leading the decliners.

Banks are also under pressure despite the European Central Bank easing European banks requirements when it comes to their leverage ratios, until June next year, as concerns about the economic outlook continue to intensify.

All across Europe we are seeing rising infection rates with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control expressing concern about the continued rise in infection rates, with Spain leading the way. While this is undoubtedly causing a lot of anxiety, as infections hit record highs, it also needs to be set in the context that a lot more tests are being conducted now than was the case six months ago. Hospitalisations and deaths are still at a fairly low rate, though they are starting to rise again.

Having seen decent trading updates from the likes of H&M and Inditex earlier this week, expectations were high that Next would be able to follow suit when they reported on their latest first half numbers today, and they haven't disappointed.

Today's update has seen the business report a first half profit before tax of £9m, with full price sales down 33% on a year ago. Total H1 revenues did fall a little short at £1.36bn, with consensus expectations for about £1.57bn.

The company also updated its guidance for the full year, saying that profit before tax is now expected to come in at £300m up from the guidance that was issued in July of £195m, though the decision was also taken not to reinstate the dividend with the economic outlook still so uncertain.

When you consider that in January, Next was expecting to see pre-tax profits of £734m for 2020, this is a remarkable turn in fortunes from what the business was facing as recently as a couple of months ago. has also reported on its latest H1 numbers which has seen revenues decimated by the various shutdowns, and lower footfall as a result of the lockdown of the UK economy. In Q1 group net ticket sales declined £79m, equivalent to 9% of the total from the same period in 2019.

In Q2 this improved to 30% with revenue of £280m, and a total of £359m for the first half.

The US dollar has found some support today in the wake of last nights Fed decision, though this may have more to do with the fact that equity markets are predominantly in risk off mode today, with the greenback reaping the benefit of some safe haven buying.

US markets also look set to open sharply lower, with the downbeat mood in Europe translating into a similar weakness with the Nasdaq looking particularly soft. Facebook was amongst the bigger fallers on reports, hitting its lowest levels this month, on news that it is facing an anti-trust investigation from the Federal Trade Commission.

Snowflake shares got off to a cracking start on its first day as a publicly listed company its share price surging to $245 a share, doubling from its initial IPO price.

The big question today given the market weakness we could see when US markets re-open is whether we get a first day hangover as investors re-evaluate whether the company is worth a $70.4bn valuation, when in February it was valued at one fifth of that.

Uber is also set to be in focus on reports it is looking to seek a partial sale of its $6.3bn stake in Didi.

On the data front weekly jobless claims are expected to come in at 850k a modest decline from last week's 884k.

Dow Jones is expected to open 282 points lower at 27,750.

S&P500 is expected to open 40 points lower at 3,345.

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