- FTSE closes up 5.41 points at 6,878.49
- Quarterly unemployment falls
- Ukraine launches discussions to end the crisis
techMARK 2,793.06 -0.40%
FTSE 100 6,878.49 +0.08%
FTSE 250 15,974.61 -0.40%
UK stocks delivered a modest rise on Wednesday as investors digested the latest minutes from the Bank of England (BoE), alongside the latest developments in Eastern Europe, together with lower UK unemployment figures.
The FTSE 100 closed up 5.41 points at 6,878.49.
In comments made shortly before the close, Chris Beauchamp, a Market Analyst at IG, said: "The FTSE 100 has recovered from the morning's losses and seems intent on actually closing up for the day. The recent sell-off has had the effect of tempting some investors in off the sidelines, helped by the general improvement in economic outlook.
"Although the index is international by disposition, it will hardly have escaped the notice of traders that the Bank of England was cautiously upbeat in its inflation report today, even if it still thinks there is slack to be eliminated before a rate increase becomes a realistic prospect."
The report indicated that the BoE believes that the economic recovery has continued well, although acknowledged that there is some way to go until before the Monetary Policy Committee is comfortable that sufficient wasteful slack has been removed.
In other UK macro news, the unemployment rate slipped to 6.8% in the three months to March from 6.9% in the month before, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 6.8%.
The claimant count fell by 25,100 in April (consensus: 30,000). That represented a drop of 399,600 from the year earlier level, but they were still 338,300 above the pre-downturn trough of 778,400 reached in February 2008.
Ukraine launches discussions to end the crisis
Ukraine has agreed to launch discussions to end the crisis and give more powers to the regions as a poll showed that more than half its citizens want to join the European Union (EU) although almost a third favour joining a Moscow-led alliance.
That came alongside news that the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had brokered a peace plan which received backing from Moscow, although pro-Russian separatists were thought unlikely to attend.
In that regards, the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk have declared themselves separate from Ukraine after referendums, although while Russia said it "respected" the votes, they have been disregarded as illegal by Kiev, the US and EU.
Meanwhile, over in the US, producer prices increased by 0.6% month-on-month in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Versus a year ago prices were 2.1% higher, their fastest pace since September 2012.
Miners track metal prices higher
Antofagasta and BHP Billiton rose on the back of rising metal prices, which saw gold rise 0.74%, silver 1.32%, platinum 1.52% and copper 0.78% by the close.
AstraZeneca was making modest gains following reports its Chief Executive had said he would be open to the "right offer" from Pfizer.
Meanwhile, television network ITV fell sharply despite a seemingly in-line first-quarter statement with total external revenues up 2%. Analyst Steve Liechti from Investec said that the update "looks OK [with ad revenues] more or less as we expected", but "some bulls may have wanted more". The stock was down nearly 6%.
A number of heavyweight stocks were trading lower after going ex-dividend, including J Sainsbury, Aberdeen Asset Management, Glencore Xstrata and Kingfisher.
Also higher was catering giant Compass, which has hiked its interim dividend after a solid first half and unveiled a £1bn capital return to investors. The return, which Compass said was due to ongoing strong cash flows, is being effected by way of a special dividend and share consolidation.
On the second tier, private equity group 3i Group rose into the top spot after it said it was starting the year with good momentum and ambitious plans, after unveiling results that showed an encouraging improvement in net asset value (NAV).
Meanwhile, British engineering company Renishaw dropped after it posted a fall in pre-tax profit, to £14.4m from £15.9m due to currency headwinds. Investec placed both its target price (prev.: 1,940p) and its 'hold' recommendation under review.
FTSE 100 - Risers
G4S (GFS) 256.50p +2.40%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 795.00p +2.05%
SSE (SSE) 1,536.00p +1.79%
Experian (EXPN) 1,083.00p +1.69%
Compass Group (CPG) 996.00p +1.58%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,995.00p +1.53%
Fresnillo (FRES) 836.50p +1.39%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,374.00p +1.31%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,044.00p +1.26%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,702.00p +1.25%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
ITV (ITV) 179.10p -6.23%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 327.70p -3.33%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 835.00p -2.79%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 377.00p -2.41%
Kingfisher (KGF) 408.30p -2.20%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 288.30p -1.77%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 890.50p -1.77%
Barclays (BARC) 251.30p -1.59%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 388.90p -1.57%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 844.00p -1.52%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 215.50p +8.67%
3i Group (III) 400.20p +5.79%
Booker Group (BOK) 156.50p +4.06%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 128.90p +3.78%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 445.00p +3.25%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,744.00p +2.41%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 50.90p +1.90%
NMC Health (NMC) 472.40p +1.81%
Stagecoach Group (SGC) 372.40p +1.55%
Evraz (EVR) 105.00p +1.45%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Renishaw (RSW) 1,701.00p -7.50%
Howden Joinery Group (HWDN) 334.80p -4.23%
Carillion (CLLN) 353.00p -3.87%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 2,309.00p -3.79%
Supergroup (SGP) 1,068.00p -3.78%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 323.10p -3.44%
Rightmove (RMV) 2,286.00p -3.42%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 177.20p -3.28%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,420.00p -3.20%
Redrow (RDW) 276.50p -2.98%