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Some disappointing pan-European earnings numbers have colluded to bring about a fairly chastened start to morning trade, writes Brenda Kelly, senior market strategist, IG.

The technology sector has been knocked back owing to a trimmed revenue forecast from German software company SAP AG. However, the London equity blue-chip benchmark has made yet another attempt on the 6600 level; a close above this level is likely to set the index on a path towards this year’s high.

London Stock Exchange led the gainers in early trade today following reports that its first-quarter revenues had surged 39% to £249.7m, beating consensus figures, with the share price adding 4.6%. This, on top of the 30% increase in share price for the year to date, indicates that the income arising from its capital markets division is fast expanding.

Investors turned sour on Tate and Lyle, with the share price offloading 2.44% as a result of a broker downgrade. The company’s share price was ripe for a minor correction, having added over 17% from the beginning of the year and established an all-time high of 890p last week.

The UK retail sector seems to be gaining traction, with sales volumes increasing by 0.2% on the month, adding up to a 2.2% gain year-on-year. While warm weather is clearly a factor for footfall and sentiment, the current heatwave may well bring about a bigger increase for July.

Weekly unemployment claims for the USA are due out at 1.30pm. Expectations are for a mild decrease to 344,000 from last week’s 360,000. The closely watched Philly Fed manufacturing index is also due for release at 3pm.

As is becoming the norm, the star act that is Bernanke will be the key to afternoon trade. We merely heard a repeat of the usual rhetoric from him yesterday, that any changes to monetary policy would be data dependent. It may be something of a futile errand, but his actual Q&A testimony later this afternoon will once again be examined and speculated upon.

The Dow is set to open up 23 points at 15,493.