- FTSE closes up 42.81 points to 6,839.25
- ECB signals possible rate action in June
- MPC maintains bank rate
- Barclays unveils further job cuts
techMARK 2,807.39 +0.59%
FTSE 100 6,839.25 +0.63%
FTSE 250 15,968.51 +0.55%
The City ended today's session on a positive note, buoyed by speeches from both ECB President Mario Draghi and Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen, in addition to a well-received strategy update from Barclays.
The FTSE 100 closed up 42.81 points to 6,839.25.
European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi left the door wide open to possible policy action come the June meeting of the Governing Council.
"The Governing Council is comfortable with acting next time, but before we want to see the staff projections that will come out in the early June," Draghi told journalists.
"Central bankers seem to be doing their (unintended) best to talk up global equity indices at present, as first Janet Yellen and then Mario Draghi uttered words that served to soothe the frayed nerves of traders," Chris Beauchamp, Market Analyst at IG, explained to clients.
"Yellen succeeded at her complex game of Q&A dodge-ball, carefully tiptoeing around the question of when the first rate hike would take place. Today, Mario Draghi effectively signalled some sort of action in June to fight the ongoing menace of low inflation in the Eurozone."
For its part, Capital Economics said: "A small cut in the main refinancing rate seems like the least that the Bank could do and is unlikely to be particularly effective. Bolder policy action, perhaps including asset purchases, should not be far off."
Back in the UK, today´s meeting the Bank of England's (BoE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) saw members vote to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.5% and leave the stock of purchased assets financed by the issuance of central bank reserves unchanged at £375bn.
Capital Economics was of the opinion that while the MPC may feel comfortable to allow the Financial Policy Committee to tackle the strength of the housing market, the benign inflation outlook suggests that tighter monetary policy is still not a near-term prospect.
In other UK macro news, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors reported the seasonally adjusted house price balance at 54, down from the 57 seen in March and below expectations of 55.
"House prices in general look set to remain firmly on the upward trend, although interestingly, there are some tentative signs that the price momentum in the London market may begin to slow in the second half of the year," said RICS's Chief Economist Simon Rubinsohn.
US weekly unemployment claims drop by 26,000 to 319,000
Over in the States, initial weekly unemployment claims in the US dropped by 26,000 over the seven days ending on May 3rd, to reach 319,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 325,000.
Barclays job cuts lift City spirits and blue chips
Barclays led London's blue chips higher after it pleased the City with plans to slash 14,000 jobs in 2014 across the group as it aimed to become a "leaner, stronger" bank.
In what it described as a "bold simplification" of the group, Barclays said it planned to cut 7,000 jobs from its Investment Bank by 2016, as part of a wider restructuring, which will see the bank focus on four core businesses; Personal and Corporate Banking, Barclaycard, Africa Banking and the Investment Bank.
After falling initially, supermarket chain Morrison bounced back to second on the leaderboard, recovering much of Wednesday's share price losses, as investors were encouraged by bullish tone of its first-quarter statement. The grocer held on to its full-year targets despite a 4.2% drop in total sales and a 7.1% fall in like-for-like sales. Chief Executive Dalton Philips said its March price-cutting strategy was "on track", but would "take time for their full impact to be felt".
Sector peer Tesco also made strong gains.
At the opposite end of the chart were shares
in Sage, the accountancy software player, after long-running boss Guy Berruyer surprised by announcing he planned to retire by March 2015. This seemed to far overshadow a 5% increase in half-year revenue, driven by strong growth in software subscriptions.
Energy company Centrica, owner of British Gas in the UK and Direct Energy in the US, was another notable faller as it downgraded guidance for full-year earnings. Milder weather hit consumption in the UK downstream business, with a highly competitive supply environment adding further headwinds. Full-year UK residential energy supply revenue is expected to be around 10% below 2013 levels and post-tax margins are expected to be around 4% this year.
On the second tier, fashion retailer SuperGroup saw its shares plummet after reporting a steep slowdown in sales growth in the fourth quarter and saying full-year profits would be at the lower end of expectations, while Perform impressed with strong revenue growth in the first quarter and the appointment of a respected new Chief Financial Officer.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Barclays (BARC) 262.45p +7.87%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 198.90p +4.25%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 901.50p +3.44%
Tesco (TSCO) 295.00p +3.13%
Shire Plc (SHP) 3,400.00p +2.91%
BT Group (BT.A) 387.60p +2.87%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 449.40p +2.86%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 404.60p +2.64%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,523.00p +2.63%
Old Mutual (OML) 208.00p +2.41%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Sage Group (SGE) 399.50p -5.33%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,530.00p -3.68%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,388.00p -2.32%
Centrica (CNA) 320.40p -1.96%
Meggitt (MGGT) 475.30p -1.53%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,205.00p -1.29%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 96.70p -1.23%
Fresnillo (FRES) 810.00p -1.22%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,730.00p -0.86%
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,641.00p -0.85%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Perform Group (PER) 250.00p +6.84%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 64.10p +4.65%
Pace (PIC) 377.30p +4.43%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 162.40p +3.70%
Diploma (DPLM) 699.00p +3.63%
3i Group (III) 384.00p +2.98%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 252.50p +2.94%
Laird (LRD) 285.80p +2.88%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 349.80p +2.76%
Interserve (IRV) 674.50p +2.74%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Supergroup (SGP) 1,179.00p -12.54%
Keller Group (KLR) 975.00p -3.66%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 125.00p -2.72%
Afren (AFR) 161.10p -2.42%
Amec (AMEC) 1,208.00p -2.27%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 290.00p -2.03%
Hunting (HTG) 832.50p -2.00%
Michael Page International (MPI) 459.00p -1.84%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,708.00p -1.56%
De La Rue (DLAR) 815.50p -1.45%