Trade truce hopes lift equities

In mid-morning trading, the FTSE 100 is 30 points higher, as investors hope trade war talk will continue to diminish.

  • Trump strikes a softer tone on trade

  • UK CPI weakness hits sterling

  • Tullow revives its dividend

Trade tensions will never go away so long as Donald Trump is in charge in the White House, given his 18-century mercantilist views on trade, but perhaps an extended stalemate is coming into play. By delaying beyond the 1 March deadline, Mr Trump ensures that the issues don't go away, but the tit-for-tat tariffs of 2018 might not be so prevalent. After all, as the next election tiptoes ever closer, the idea of an all-out trade war, while sounding good for polling purposes, might not result in extra votes. Market continue to view the possible extension of the deadline as a positive, while an end to the US budget standoff would also remove another area of concern. UK CPI figures provided little relief for sterling bulls, given the lower-than-expected headline figure. But it is still Brexit that dominates, and here too extending deadlines seems to be in vogue. As the clock ticks down, the choice is probably the one the PM wanted anyway – her deal or extension.

Cautious types might wonder why Tullow has returned to paying a dividend when it still has so much debt to dispose of, but the firm's patient approach is certainly encouraging investors to look more kindly on the company. It is still a long journey to the heady days when Tullow traded for £16 a share, but the price has formed a solid base around 140p and has made heroic efforts to trim expenditure.

Ahead of the open, we expect the Dow to start at 25,465, up 40 points on last night's close.

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