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  • U.K. shares on the back foot following weak Chinese factory data and geopolitics.  
  • The FTSE 100 ended down 0.5% at 7,074.73 as traders squared up for the month – ending higher by 3.3% for the month. Sterling dropped 0.3% vs the dollar at 1.3264 and a touch lower by 0.4% against the euro at 0.8577.

Global markets were reminded of the slowdown in China which weighed on stock markets with factory activity contracting to a three-year low in February. Chinese NBS manufacturing dropped to 49.2 in February from 49.5 expectations and prior data from the month before. As for the pound, US data pressured cable off its 500 pip rally highs with the greenback bulls kicking back into gear following the US gross domestic product upside surprise, arriving at 2.6% and beating the expected 2.3% for the fourth quarter.

Elsewhere, Geopolitics is creeping back in again, from trade to India and Pakistan and the Vietnam summit between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that ended abruptly with Trump walking out on the meeting. As per Brexit, it is quite clear that Parliament doesn’t want any deal Brexit and there is growing speculation that indeed, Article 50 will be extended. This lead to the resignation of Tory’s agriculture minister, George Eustice.

Best and worst performers

On the corporate front, the Chinese data disappointment weighed on miners with Antofagasta, BHP and Rio Tinto both slipping up. However, the worst of the top flight index were EasyJet (EZJ )1,227.50p -6.40%, followed by Mondi (MNDI) 1,728.50p -6.31% and Smith (DS) (SMDS) 335.50p -3.56%.  The top three performers were Rentokil Initial (RTO) 351.00p 6.69% followed by St James’s Place (STJ) 972.40p 3.31% and NMC Health (NMC) 2,704.00p 3.28%.  

FTSE levels

The month is leaving a bullish extension on the monthly charts, although zooming in, the weekly chart’s upside correction has stalled for a second down week within the rising wedge. At this juncture, the bears are in control within the  2019 uptrend support area between 7002 and 8th Feb lows at 7064, toying with the 7070 (recent double bottom daily lows (made up of 38.2% Fibo of May 2018 highs to Dec 2018 lows and Feb/Mar 2018 and Feb 8th 2019 lows)). A move lower will be in breach of the trend line support at 7005 and weekly and daily stochastics lean bearish, favouring the outcome.  A clean break there opens risk to the 6870/60s ahead of the 6730/40s and late Jan double bottom lows. However, an extension of the upside, bulls will look to the recent high  of  7261 and confluence  with the 200-D SMA at the round 7270 level, a moving average that was last tested and breached momentarily back in Sep 2018.