- FTSE 100 closes up 44.92 points at 6,635.61
- Shop prices plummet as retailers fight for business
- February trade data shows UK still struggling to rebalance
techMARK 2,730.00 +1.20%
FTSE 100 6,635.61 +0.68%
FTSE 250 16,163.70 +0.93%
UK stocks ended today's session with a decent finish as improvements amongst stocks were seen across the globe.
The FTSE 100 finished up 44.92 points at 6,635.61.
The gains were being led by house builders, while mining stocks declined.
The day's big news includes a slump in shop prices and reports UK trade is still struggling to rebalance.
In other interesting news, Anthony Thomson, the founder and former Chairman of Metro Bank has unveiled plans to launch Atom, the first 'truly digital' retail and business bank. The new online bank, which is due to open in 2015, will offer both consumer and business banking.
Shop prices plummet as retailers fight for business
UK high street prices fell for the eleventh month in a row in March as retailers battled for business from cash-strapped shoppers, a survey out Wednesday showed.
Overall shop prices dropped by 1.7% against a 1.4% fall in February, according to the March Shop Price Index from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and researchers Nielsen.
February trade data shows UK still struggling to rebalance
The UK's external trade deficit in goods and services decreased slightly in February to £2.1bn from £2.2bn in the month before, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The deficit in goods contracted to £9.1bn, from a downwardly revised £9.5bn for January, more than compensating for a lower surplus in services, which fell to £7.0bn from £7.3bn.
Looking ahead to tomorrow, the Bank of England (BoE) is due to release its latest policy decision. The central bank is forecast to leave interest rates at 0.5% and asset purchase at £375bn.
Attention moves to Fed minutes
Attention will be focused on the US Federal Reserve, which will this evening release minutes of its meeting in March when it announced another round of stimulus tapering.
The central bank shaved off a further $10bn off its monthly bond purchase following the March 18th to 19th meeting. Fed Chair Janet Yellen surprised markets by saying the first rise in interest rates could come six months after the end to quantitative easing.
If the Fed keeps up the current pace of asset buying reductions, the programme will end around October.
Barratt Developments rises on broker comment
Barratt Developments raced to the top of the leaderboard today after Deutsche Bank named the house builder as a top pick. Sector peer Travis Perkins was also making strong gains.
ARM Holdings was a notable riser today, with investors feeling a renewed sense of confidence after the tech-heavy Nasdaq snapped its recent slump.
Analysts at UBS gave DIY retailer Kingfisher a lift after raising its price target on the back of expectations that the purchase of Mr.Bricolage offers greater scope to contribute to earnings than initially thought.
Meanwhile, mining stocks, particularly Randgold Resources, Antofagasta and Fresnillo, were in the red as the price of metals declined.
The Royal Mail has warned of a 'period of uncertainty' in the UK postal market as Ofcom investigates the company after TNT Post UK complained about price increases. TNT Post protested that the recently privatised Royal Mail plans to raise charges on wholesale mail contracts or so-called 'Access' contracts. Charges include a last-mile delivery fee on items. Credit Suisse also issued a negative note on the stock, pointing out that consensus is too positive on the company's margin forecasts.
Car insurance premiums fell further in the first quarter of 2014, confounding firms' hopes of a bounce-back and hitting shares
in the sector. Prices dropped by 7.5% in the last three months after having shown signs of bottoming out at the end of last year, according to an index from price comparison site Confused.com and professional services company Towers Watson.
Barclays Bank faced more controversy as it topped a watchdog's list of the UK's most-complained about banks, but gripes about financial service companies fell overall. Retail customers launched nearly 310,000 complaints against Barclays between July and December last year, the Financial Conduct Authority said.
FTSE 100 - Risers
ARM Holdings (ARM) 1,029.00p +4.52%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 395.90p +3.86%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 850.00p +3.72%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,851.00p +3.58%
Kingfisher (KGF) 436.40p +3.34%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,417.00p +3.13%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,320.00p +3.12%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,327.00p +2.83%
GKN (GKN) 388.50p +2.67%
TUI Travel (TT.) 434.10p +2.65%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,627.00p -2.73%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 848.00p -2.58%
Fresnillo (FRES) 884.00p -2.32%
Royal Mail (RMG) 515.00p -2.00%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,603.00p -1.59%
Tesco (TSCO) 284.20p -1.27%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,558.00p -1.20%
SABMiller (SAB) 3,099.00p -1.07%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 312.75p -1.03%
BG Group (BG.) 1,117.00p -1.02%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 208.00p +6.23%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 319.90p +5.75%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 323.00p +5.49%
Carillion (CLLN) 379.40p +5.27%
Carphone Warehouse Group (CPW) 328.80p +5.25%
EnQuest (ENQ) 129.10p +4.87%
ITE Group (ITE) 199.60p +4.72%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,434.00p +4.60%
Grafton Group Units (GFTU) 639.50p +4.49%
Booker Group (BOK) 155.90p +4.42%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
esure Group (ESUR) 244.00p -8.85%
Berendsen (BRSN) 1,035.00p -4.26%
Polymetal International (POLY) 609.50p -3.86%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 51.50p -3.38%
BBA Aviation (BBA) 324.10p -2.61%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,197.00p -2.44%
Heritage Oil (HOIL) 238.50p -2.37%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 233.40p -2.26%
Laird (LRD) 306.30p -2.11%
KCOM Group (KCOM) 101.00p -1.85%