The FTSE 100 is expected to start higher on Wednesday as traders await clarity on the UK’s services sector.

Spread-betters IG expect the blue-chip index to open up around 11 points after ending Tuesday’s session 86 points higher at 6,823.

With the UK’s lockdown set for another round of easing next Monday, businesses are gearing up for a resumption of trading that saw a flash PMI reading surge last month.

“This rebound in activity suggests that businesses are building up inventory as well as preparing for a coiled spring rebound in [the second quarter]”, said Michael Hewson at CMC Markets, with non-essential retailers, hairdressers and pub beer gardens due to reopen for business from next week.

Aside from the UK services PMI, investors will also be eyeing the latest set of minutes from the Federal Reserve to discern any more detail about the US central bank’s approach to possible interest rate rises and economic forecasts for the coming years.

Predictions of a higher start in London followed a sluggish session for Wall Street overnight, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing 0.29% lower at 33,430 while the S&P 500 dropped 0.1% to 4,073 and the Nasdaq fell 0.05% to 13,698.

The picture was more mixed in Asia this morning, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 rising 0.13% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.8%.

On currency markets, the pound was up 0.01% against the dollar at US$1.382, although the services data and Fed minutes later today could provide some movement catalysts.

Around the markets:

Sterling: US$1.382, up 0.01%

Brent crude: US$63.03 a barrel, up 0.46%

Gold: US$1,738.57 an ounce, up 0.59%

Bitcoin: US$57,743, down 1.87%

6.50am: Early Markets – Asia / Australia

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed on Wednesday following overnight losses on Wall Street, where U.S. stocks fell from record levels.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong slipped 0.74% while the Shanghai Composite in China dropped 0.51%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.14% and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.22%.

Shares in Australia traded higher, with the S&P/ASX 200 advancing 0.52%.

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Proactive Australia news:

Alta Zinc Ltd (ASX:AZI) (FRA:8EE) has received thick, high-grade zinc and lead results from the first drill pad of its maiden drilling program at Ponente area of the Gorno Project in Italy with added silver.

Auteco Minerals Ltd’s (ASX:AUT) (OTCMKTS:MNXMF) strategy to upgrade and grow the 1-million-ounce inferred resource at its Pickle Crow Gold Project in Canada continues to deliver strong results with the discovery of more high-grade mineralisation.

Perseus Mining Ltd (ASX:PRU) (TSE:PRU) (OTCMKTS:PMNXF) (FRA:P4Q) has demonstrated potential for organic growth of gold inventories across its multi-mine asset portfolio in Côte d’Ivoire with further broad high-grade results from regional drilling at Sissingué and Yaouré.

K2fly Ltd (ASX:K2F) experienced a record invoicing quarter, with A$2.06 million in invoices raised in the March quarter, a 28% increase on the A$1.61 million of the corresponding quarter of FY20.

Miramar Resources Ltd (ASX:DRM) has kicked off drilling at its highly prospective gold projects in world-class locations and is progressing various other projects through permitting and or tenement grant.

CV Check Ltd (ASX:CV1) has completed the acquisition of CI6 Pty Ltd an entity that owns Bright People Technologies Pty Ltd (BPT), a SaaS cloud-based provider of workforce credentials and compliance software through the Enable and Cited brands.

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