- ONS confirms Q4 UK growth of 0.7 per cent
- Yellen points to softer spending
- US jobless claims come in above expectations
techMARK 2,902.16 +0.09%
FTSE 100 6,810.27 +0.16%
FTSE 250 16,523.02 +0.31%
After a jam-packed day, the FTSE finished slightly higher, helped by confirmation of UK quarterly growth figures as well as strong results out from Capita and Whitbread.
The FTSE 100 finished 11.12 points higher at 6,810.27.
It was confirmed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today that the UK economy grew at a 0.7% rate in the final three months of 2013, as had been previously estimated. This was in part driven by a 2.4% increase in investment compared to the third quarter.
For the year as a whole, however, the ONS cut its estimate overall growth by 0.1% to 0.8%.
Fed Chair Yellen acknowledges softer spending, but weather impact unclear
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen tweaked her prepared testimony to the Senate compared to the one given two weeks ago to the House. The meeting had been delayed from February 5th due to winter storms.
This time Yellen pointed out that a number of released since then have pointed to softer spending that may partly reflect adverse weather conditions.
"Part of that softness may reflect adverse weather conditions, but at this point it's difficult to discern exactly how much," she said.
Also in the US, jobless claims increased by 14,000 to 348,000 in the week ended February 22nd, from 334,000 in the prior period, a Labor Department report showed. Economists had expected 335,000 claims.
The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring the labour market to gauge the health of the world's biggest economy ahead of its next policy meeting.
"A third consecutive month of weak payroll growth in February would raise speculation that the Fed will pause the tapering of its asset purchases," Capital Economics said. "But because any weakness this month was probably due to the unusually bad weather, we believe the Fed will stick to its current tapering plans."
Meanwhile, a report showed durable goods orders fell less than expected in January, down 1% compared to a fall of 5.3% in December. Analysts predicted a decrease of 1.7%.
Data from Europe comes in mixed
It was also a busy session in Europe, where Eurozone confidence indicators improved during February and beat consensus, although the gauge tracking consumers' sentiment showed these were more downbeat than in the first month of 2014, according to the European Commission.
The economic sentiment indicator marked a marginal increase of 0.2 points to 101.2, clocking in slightly above expectations of 100.9.
In Germany, the number of people unemployed fell by 14,000 compared to expectations of 10,000, while jobless claims declined by 28,000, according to the Federal Statistics Office. The jobless rate held steady at 6.8% as expected.
The turbulent situation in Ukraine has continued today, with reports that dozens of armed men have seized government buildings in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea.
Capital Economics noted that "it's difficult to gauge the immediate impact of recent developments in Ukraine on the economy", but said "historical evidence from similar instances of unrest and political transition suggests that GDP growth rates can weaken by between 4-8% points in the following year".
Capita leads as RBS sinks
Outsourcing specialist Capita led the upside after it said it had won £588m-worth of new contracts so far in 2014, as it lifted pre-tax profits by 14% to £215m for the 2013 full-year. Revenues rose 15% to £3.85bn and operating profits increased to £516m from £312m in 2012.
Whitbread also rose strongly after revealing it is on track to report full-year results at the top end of expectations. In the 50 weeks to February 13th, the hotels and restaurants chain saw its like-for-like sales climb 4.0%, driven by its Costa and Premier Inn chains, where they rose 5.8% and 4.7%, respectively.
Rolls-Royce was rising strongly after it yesterday unveiled designs for the next generation of its fuel-efficient plane engines, returning faith to investors following a surprise profit warning issued two weeks earlier.
Reed Elsevier was also higher after saying it expected to deliver another year of growth in 2014 and posted an in-line increase in earnings of 7% for last year.
Meanwhile, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) fell sharply after reporting its biggest annual loss since the height of the 2008 financial crisis as the lender underwent a major restructuring and paid fines. The state-backed bank reported an operating loss before tax of £8.24bn for the year through December 2013, up from a loss of £5.27bn in 2012, missing analysts' estimates of £6.7bn.
Advertising giant WPP fell after revealing that a stronger pound in the second half of the year in key markets lowered reported margins by 0.2 percentage points, causing the company to miss its margin target.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Capita (CPI) 1,158.00p +6.73%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,397.00p +4.92%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 992.50p +3.22%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,721.00p +2.44%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,462.00p +1.88%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,959.00p +1.71%
Tesco (TSCO) 331.25p +1.61%
Reed Elsevier (REL) 923.50p +1.60%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,371.00p +1.56%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,459.00p +1.51%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 326.60p -7.74%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 98.10p -4.01%
WPP (WPP) 1,285.00p -3.46%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,346.00p -1.75%
Rexam (REX) 495.20p -1.75%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,499.00p -1.64%
ITV (ITV) 199.20p -1.14%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 2,945.00p -1.07%
BG Group (BG.) 1,088.50p -1.05%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,433.00p -1.04%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 310.00p +38.76%
Man Group (EMG) 96.10p +14.27%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 434.00p +7.96%
CSR (CSR) 765.00p +6.77%
Bodycote (BOY) 741.00p +6.47%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 291.90p +4.96%
RPS Group (RPS) 331.30p +4.78%
Carphone Warehouse Group (CPW) 346.60p +4.59%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 427.80p +3.89%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 191.90p +3.23%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 571.50p -7.37%
Synthomer (SYNT) 259.70p -4.66%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 531.50p -4.66%
IP Group (IPO) 215.60p -4.14%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 181.20p -3.46%
Rank Group (RNK) 136.60p -2.78%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 778.00p -2.75%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 4,894.00p -2.61%
Ted Baker (TED) 2,150.00p -2.54%
Evraz (EVR) 71.05p -2.47%