- FTSE closes up 6.36 points at 6,641.97
- Data positive for housing in UK
- BoE keeps monetary policy unchanged
techMARK 2,719.41 -0.39%
FTSE 100 6,641.97 +0.10%
FTSE 250 16,148.54 -0.09%
Stocks managed to hold onto their gains by the close, but not by much as indices Stateside fell into the red, erasing earlier climbs to around 6,686.
The FTSE ended the session up 6.36 points at 6,641.97.
Positive news about the UK housing situation helped drive stocks higher across several stocks, namely real estate, construction and materials, with Land Securities leading the charge.
Over in the US, sentiment has turned negative, particularly towards biotech and web stocks. Investors are concerned about data out from China, but were cheered by jobless claims, which came in better than expected at their lowest level in close to seven years.
Chinese trade account figures for March were notably short of expectations.
House prices to rocket 35% by 2020, industry experts predict
House prices are predicted to rocket 35% by 2020, rising an average of 6% annually, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has announced.
House prices across the UK are expected to increase, rising the most at 9.3% in London and the least at 2% in the North, rising to an average of £570,000 and £132,000, respectively.
That came as the Council of Mortgage Lenders revealed that mortgages granted to first-time buyers in February leapt 55% year-on-year, with the number rising to 22,200 with a total value of £3.1bn.
Meanwhile, RICS also announced that house sales across Britain climbed to a six-year high in the first quarter of 2014, with growth spreading "right across the country".
The data was based on the average number of houses sold per chartered surveyor, which rose to 22.7 homes, a level not seen since February 2008.
BoE keeps monetary policy unchanged
The Bank of England met expectations on Thursday by saying it has left monetary policy unchanged, keeping interest rates at their record-low level.
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.5%, where it has been since March 2009.
Meanwhile, the size of the asset purchase programme was left unchanged at £375bn.
"With inflation falling and plenty of slack still left in the labour market, today's no-change decision by the MPC is likely to have been unanimous again," said analysts at Capital Economics.
FCA ponders changes to bank overdrafts
The Financial Conduct Authority has proposed working with the competition regulator to ensure banks' overdraft mechanisms and fees are fairer.
As overdraft fees generate a third of the revenue from personal account banking in Britain, the prospect of the financial watchdog imposing changes could hit the industry hard.
Marks and Spencer at bottom of the pile
With UK sales remaining stubbornly flat, Marks and Spencer stitched together a more encouraging fourth-quarter result, but was nonetheless sat firmly in the bottom spot on the FTSE today.
The group said second-half general merchandise gross margin will be down against the previous year, in line with the first half, as the group looks to compete with the high levels of promotion from its rivals. As a result, full-year UK gross margin is expected to be down around 20 basis points, compared to a flat outcome previously expected by the market.
Broker N+1 Singer said the lack of visible revenue improvements was continuing to test investor resolve, but that these numbers provided some small encouragement, enough to maintain a 'buy' recommendation.
Antofagasta declined after UBS reduced its rating on the stock from 'neutral' to 'sell'.
ARM Holdings retreated from its recent surge which came on the back of gains in the tech-sector Stateside earlier in the week.
Meanwhile, real estate company Land Securities rose amid signs of continued robust growth in the UK housing market.
Associated British Foods was climbing strongly after earlier in the week being hit by a rival's profit warning on sugar. However, the situation is looking more positive after Morgan Stanley analysts said it continued to believe that the group's Primark business "will be the key driver in 2014/15, delivering 8% plus top-line growth and 12%-15% earnings per share growth from 2015, and we remain firmly overweight".
FTSE 100 - Risers
Land Securities Group (LAND) 1,045.00p +2.85%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,671.00p +2.61%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,465.00p +2.03%
Fresnillo (FRES) 899.50p +1.75%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,342.00p +1.67%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,694.00p +1.45%
Compass Group (CPG) 921.00p +1.26%
Next (NXT) 6,540.00p +1.16%
Shire Plc (SHP) 2,937.00p +1.07%
British Land Co (BLND) 668.00p +1.06%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 442.00p -3.07%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 1,004.00p -2.43%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 197.30p -2.28%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 829.50p -2.18%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 413.90p -1.59%
Royal Mail (RMG) 507.00p -1.55%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,826.00p -1.35%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 810.00p -1.34%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,324.00p -1.19%
Centrica (CNA) 333.70p -1.16%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Hays (HAS) 151.40p +4.63%
Elementis (ELM) 289.60p +4.17%
Evraz (EVR) 84.75p +3.42%
Renishaw (RSW) 1,965.00p +3.04%
Worldwide Healthcare Trust (WWH) 1,272.00p +3.00%
RPS Group (RPS) 321.00p +2.65%
Workspace Group (WKP) 606.00p +2.62%
Rank Group (RNK) 162.30p +2.40%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,465.00p +2.16%
Playtech (PTEC) 687.50p +2.15%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Genus (GNS) 940.00p -5.91%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 245.80p -3.83%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,126.00p -3.76%
Booker Group (BOK) 150.20p -3.66%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 46.40p -3.65%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,380.00p -3.56%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 170.00p -3.24%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 391.70p -3.12%
Infinis Energy (INFI) 227.00p -2.78%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 656.00p -2.74%
FTSE TechMARK - Risers
Skyepharma (SKP) 230.00p +4.55%
Puricore (PURI) 45.00p +3.45%
Torotrak (TRK) 20.75p +2.47%
Dialight (DIA) 904.00p +1.57%
Innovation Group (TIG) 33.00p +1.54%
Sarossa Capital (SRC) 1.85p +1.37%
NCC Group (NCC) 187.75p +1.35%
XP Power Ltd. (DI) (XPP) 1,525.00p +1.06%
Gov Bond 7-10YR UCITS ETF (IEGM) € 187.12 +0.40%
Gresham Computing (GHT) 128.00p +0.39%
FTSE TechMARK - Fallers
Oxford Biomedica (OXB) 2.21p -8.47%
Vectura Group (VEC) 143.25p -2.55%
Consort Medical (CSRT) 938.50p -2.24%
Promethean World (PRW) 31.50p -1.56%
BATM Advanced Communications Ltd. (BVC) 17.50p -1.41%
Filtronic (FTC) 38.75p -1.27%
Kofax Limited (DI) (KFX) 481.00p -1.18%
Anite (AIE) 80.25p -0.93%
Phoenix IT Group (PNX) 115.00p -0.65%
RM (RM.) 149.12p -0.58%