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What you need to know before the open

Today's top story: Government backs down on amendment t..

Today's top story: Government backs down on amendment to Sanctions and Money Laundering bill to make offshore tax havens more transparent

Today's leader: The secrecy clampdown on Britain's overseas territories is welcome – and overdue

Apple surprised analysts after the bell as it reported strong iPhone sales, promising $100bn in additional stock buybacks.

Standard Chartered also posted good first quarter results, as pre-tax profits rose 20 per cent to $1.26bn.

Oil prices firmed up fuelled by concerns that the US may re-impose sanctions on major importer Iran.

The FTSE is expected to open 0.33 per cent higher at 7,546, while Germany's Dax is down 0.19 per cent to 12589, as France's Cac also slipped down 0.32 per cent to 5503, according to IG.

Shares in Asia eased while the dollar traded at a near four-year high as investors wait on the Federal Reserve's upcoming policy statement later today.

MSCI's index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.2 per cent, as Japan's Nikkei saw a 0.2 per cent dip.

Corporate news

  • Sainsbury's – the supermarket chain releases its preliminary results on the back of its mega-merger with Asda
  • Direct Line – will announce its first quarter results
  • Next – retailer will release a trading announcement
  • Unilever – is holding its AGM

Data

  • 9.00 – Eurozone Markit manufacturing PMI
  • 9.30 – UK PMI Construction (April)
  • 10.00 – Eurozone GDP YoY and QoQ (quarter one)
  • 19.00 – US Federal monetary policy statement and interest rate decision

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