Overnight Developments

There is no eCBOT market today, so we will have to wait until 3.30pm to see which way the market is going to go on the first trading day of 2009.

Crude oil is trading however, and after closing 14% higher on New Year's Eve, is around 8% lower on ideas that that particular rally was overdone.

News emerges today that Russian gas supplier Gazprom is to re-open talks with Ukraine over natural gas supplies, after cutting off supplies yesterday morning.

Crude is $3.31 lower at $41.29/barrel.

Whilst there are clear signs that US refineries are cutting back production, falling consumption is still seeing stocks building. OPEC's recently announced cuts will eventually start to filter through into the supply chain come the spring, analysts reckon.

The situation in the Middle East is keeping traders nervous, after Nizar Rayan, a senior Hamas leader, has been killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza. Most analysts however seem to think that it is unlikely to have any significant threat to world supplies.

In the grains sector South American weather appears to be the main factor at the moment, with the Argy wheat crop already decimated by drought, concerns are now switching to the possible effect on the Brazilian and Argy corn and soybean crops.

Mortgage approvals in the UK edged lower to 27K in November, the lowest level since 1991, from a revised down of 31K in previous month as falling home values paired with the ongoing turmoil in the credit market curbed demands for home investments.

The pound is up to the dizzy heights of 1.0430 against the euro, although it did get above 10.06 on New year's Eve. Against the dollar we languish around $1.4530 as the greenback is buoyed by falling crude oil.

JD Wetherspoon has cut the price of a pint of beer to less than £1 and lowered the cost of other drinks and meals in a bid to attract customers as the pub industry faces one of its toughest years. The chain will sell pints of Greene King IPA and bottles of San Miguel for 99p.

That's going to encourage even more piss-stained tramps, vagabonds and ne'er-do-wells into the place. I might pop down at lunchtime.