Markets closed slightly higher on Tuesday afternoon after a choppy day though upside was limited as investors focused on mixed data and the uncertain future for Federal Reserve monetary policy.
Last week's surprise decision by the Fed to maintain its stimulus programme is still fresh in investors' minds given that the central bank said the recovery was not strong enough to warrant a 'taper'.
New York Fed President William Dudley on Monday defended the move, saying the US economy had not picked up enough forward momentum, while James Bullard (St Louis Fed) said last week that quantitative easing could still be scaled back in October.
With a distinct lack of cohesion and an array of conflicting messages on monetary policy emanating from the Fed in the past few days, it is no wonder that an air of caution persists in equity markets at present," said Alex Young, Senior Sales Trader at CMC Markets.
The FTSE 100 in London finished 14.09 points higher at 6,571.46.
Economic data comes in mixed
Markets opened cautiously this morning after the rise in the German IFO business climate indicator for the month of September missed exectations. Business confidence increased in September to 107.7 from a revised 107.6 in August, falling below the consensus forecast for a gain up to 108.2.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the Conference Board's index measuring consumer confidence fell from a revised 81.8 to 79.7 in September, a four-month low and below the 79.9 expected by analysts.
Meanwhile, US house prices increased at an annual rate of 12.4% in July, up from the 12.1% rise in June, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. This was the biggest annual jump since February 2006 and was more or less in line with forecast.
Market Strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital said that the market is "again having to re-adjust its expectations for the timing of tapering" after figures showed a drop-off in housing and consumer activity - "both being engines of growth for the US".
FTSE 100: Carnival Q3 hit by Costa Concordia
fell in afternoon trade after the cruise line operator reported a decline in third-quarter income as it tries to recover from the sinking of its Costa Concordia ship last year. It also said that adjusted per-share results for the fourth quarter would be in the range of a loss of 3 cents to a profit of 3 cents, well below the current consensus forecast of 9 cents and 14 cents the year before.
Falling metals prices were weighing on the miners today with precious metal producers Fresnillo and Randgold among the worst performers as gold and silver values fall.
Banking stocks were leading the upside with Barclays, RBS and Standard Chartered registering decent gains before the close. Lloyds was also higher after a ratings upgrade by Investec from 'sell' to 'hold'. Analyst Ian Gordon said that the bank could benefit from less price-led competition in the mortgage market.
FTSE 100 newcomers Sports Direct and Coca-Cola HBC were also performing well, rebounding after their recent weakness since entering the top-tier index.
Power systems firm Rolls-Royce was a high riser after Jefferies raised its target price for the stock from 1,250p to 1,400p and kept a 'buy' rating, showing optimism with its 'TotalCare' services.
Sector peer BAE Systems meanwhile advanced following the news that South Korea has reopened an $8bn tender to upgrade its ageing air force, raising hopes for the group's jointly-made Eurofighter aircraft (made with partners EADS).
FTSE 250: Euromoney jumps on Q4 pick-up
Business and financial magazine publisher Euromoney Institutional Investor surged this morning after reporting that revenue growth accelerated from 2% in the third quarter to 9% in the fourth. In a pre-close trading update, the company said that full-year adjusted pre-tax profit would be around £114m, slightly ahead of estimates.
Finance house Close Bros also gained after it reported a strong set of full-year results as Asset Management returned to profit while Banking and Securities improved.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Sports Direct International (SPD) 709.00p +2.16%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,864.00p +2.14%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 213.10p +1.91%
Barclays (BARC) 271.45p +1.91%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 367.90p +1.91%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 333.00p +1.83%
WPP (WPP) 1,292.00p +1.73%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,077.00p +1.70%
BG Group (BG.) 1,208.00p +1.68%
BAE Systems (BA.) 450.90p +1.55%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Carnival (CCL) 2,258.00p -5.60%
Fresnillo (FRES) 971.00p -4.15%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,493.00p -2.77%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,545.50p -1.78%
Unilever (ULVR) 2,524.00p -1.64%
Amec (AMEC) 1,091.00p -1.53%
Diageo (DGE) 2,019.50p -1.51%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,257.00p -1.40%
Schroders (SDR) 2,549.00p -1.39%
GKN (GKN) 347.60p -1.25%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,149.00p +9.32%
Computacenter (CCC) 538.00p +6.53%
Diploma (DPLM) 636.00p +5.91%
Close Brothers Group (CBG) 1,189.00p +4.94%
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 148.00p +4.45%
Alent (ALNT) 368.80p +4.24%
Savills (SVS) 606.00p +4.21%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 541.50p +3.74%
NMC Health (NMC) 326.40p +3.45%
Howden Joinery Group (HWDN) 294.70p +3.44%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 381.00p -4.56%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 830.00p -3.71%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 190.40p -3.40%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 175.10p -2.61%
Workspace Group (WKP) 414.70p -2.33%
Afren (AFR) 142.80p -1.65%
Elementis (ELM) 246.60p -1.56%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 335.10p -1.41%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,305.00p -1.29%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 259.40p -1.14%