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US shares open down as stimulus tapering still in focus

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Wall Street stocks saw red on the open Wednesday as the US bond taper programme remained a key focus for investors.

There are more Fed voices today as the Cleveland President Sandra Pianalto will make a speech later about monetray policy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped around half a per cent to stand at 15,434, while the tech heavy Nasdaq dropped 0.59%.

The broader S&P 500 showed the biggest drop as the index slipped 0.61% to 1,687.

It comes as in the UK, it was the first public appearance by the new governor at the helm of the central bank - Mark Carney.

Those who had expected some new measures were not disappointed and the new man at the helm moved to tie the rate of UK interest rates to the level of employment. 

Interest rates will be unchanged until unemployment falls below 7%, Carney said in an echo of the US central bank’s current policy, with his expectation this will not happen at least until 2016.

In the US, the main movers included First Solar, whose shares sunk 11% on the S&P after it reported quarterly earnings and revenue, which did not meet expectations.

Elsewhere, on the Dow, entertainment giant Walt Disney was in focus as it unveiled Q3 numbers. Its shares dropped 2.55% after it revealed that it could lose millions on the 'Lone Ranger' summer blockbuster.

Meanwhile, Footsie fell 1%, or 66 points, to 6,537 - heading lower for a second day despite the new governor's performance.

Insurance giant Old Mutual (LON:OML) was the biggest riser - up 3.32%, while TUI travel (LON:TT.) was at the bottom of the blue chip pile - shedding 5.13%.

TUI, the Thomson and airtours travel group, was punished for a merest hint that trading might be slowing within an otherwise upbeat third quarter statement.

UK holiday bookings were up 11% on this time last year, it said, while operating profits rose by 18% in the three months to June.

The package tour group also forecast 10% growth year-on-year growth in operating profits, but the city scribes were disappointed with this and after a good run recently shares fell 5% to 381p.

Randgold Resources (LON:RRS) was hit by the slide in the gold price and while hardly a surprise in itself, the gold miner gave few indications that things are set to improve soon.

The firm said it will remain profitable thanks to cost cutting and increases in output from new mines such as Kibali in the DRC, but profits will not be at levels seen recently. 

Investec summed up the market response  in describing the results as lacklustre. Gold production of 196koz at cash costs of $795/oz were below expectation said the broker.

Among the smaller companies, crowd sourcing specialist blur (LON:BLUR) hit a new all-time high of 305p as it raised the upper limit on the size of projects that could be submitted to its platform to more than US$5mln.

Tintin Stormont, an analyst at City firm N+1 Singer, says it is still early days, but blur Group is building on its first mover advantage.

“blur Group is seeing strong traction in disrupting the traditional corporate services industry, a market worth US$2 trillion. There are now 30,000 businesses using the Global Services Exchange with almost 1,200 new businesses adopting blur’s s-commerce platform on a monthly basis,” Stormont said.

Summit (LON:SUMM) rose further after the drug  group was granted an important US patent that covers the use of its drug candidate SMT C1100 in combination with existing treatments for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

The patent provides exclusivity to February 2029 for deploying C1100 with medical steroids prednisolone or deflazacort. Shares rose 9p to 6p.

Miners were the big movers among the micro caps with big gains for Noricum Gold (LON:NMG), Regency Mines (LON:RGM), Metminco (LON:MNC), Hambledon Mining (LON:HMB) while UMC Energy (LON:UMC) stood out among the oilers.

Other notable gainers included Hummingbird Resources (LON:HUM), up 5.26% and Motive Television (LON:MTV) up 8.70%.

Quick facts: First Solar, Inc.

Price: 56.21 USD

NASDAQ:FSLR
Market: NASDAQ
Market Cap: $5.95 billion
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