- Stocks soar as sentiment improves over Ukraine
- Fresnillo dives as Ashtead leads risers
- UK construction PMI below forecasts
techMARK 2,921.25 +2.42%
FTSE 100 6,823.77 +1.72%
FTSE 250 16,698.90 +1.98%
UK stocks soared back into positive territory in today's session, erasing all of yesterday's losses after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered some forces to return to their bases, calming the backlash from international leaders after Russia's increased military presence near the border of Ukraine.
The FTSE 100 ended the day up 115.42 points at 6,823.77, equal to a climb of 1.72%.
IG Group's Chris Beauchamp commented: "The strong open was solidified after a press conference from Russia's president Vladimir Putin, which he conducted in his own unique style, speaking without notes and looking like a man who was in control of events (and knew it).
"Mr Putin seemed to hint that he was determined to avoid a military confrontation, and his calming words did much to reassure jittery markets. Thankfully for all concerned, the situation seems calmer than it did 24 hours ago."
Speaking about the potential impact the crisis could have on the UK, Capital Economics assured traders that not even a major and sustained rise in commodity prices would pose a large risk for the economy, predicting that "only a major and sustained rise would cause UK inflation to rise much above the 2% target this year".
UK construction PMI slightly below forecasts
The UK's construction sector slipped in February, according to Markit, which reported that its purchasing managers' index (PMI) registered a reading of 62.6 last month, down from the 77-month high of 64.6 recorded in January, although this was only slightly below consensus forecasts.
This came on the back of a further sharp increases in both employment and purchasing activity across the sector, despite the impact of recent wet weather on both output and new orders.
In other UK news, a government review into retail business rates may receive a greater shake-up after a report from Parliament's Business, Innovation and Skills Committee demanded the current system be completely reformed.
The committee, which is made up of a group of MPs, called for the Chancellor George Osborne's review to look at completely overhauling the current system and recommended that retail taxes should be based on sales instead of the value of a property.
These reforms would hit online retailers such as Amazon and ASOS, but benefit smaller High Street and local retailers.
Eurozone producer prices drop by 0.3% in January
The Eurozone's producer price index fell by 0.3% over the month (-1.4% year-on-year) during January, according to Eurostat. The consensus estimate had been for a reading of -0.1% (-1.3% year-on-year).
"A marked dip in producer prices in January will do little to ease concerns over persistently very low Eurozone inflation and maintains pressure for ECB action at its March 6th policy meeting," wrote Dr Howard Archer, Chief European and UK Economist at IHS Global Insight.
Fresnillo hit by profit drop, Ashtead soars
The picture on the FTSE was almost the reverse image of yesterday, with Fresnillo and Randgold Resources firmly lower as they tracked metal prices back into the red. Fresnillo in particular was lower, sliding after it reported a worse-than-expected 64% drop in 2013 profits, reflecting a decline in gold production and a fall in precious metal prices.
Postal group Royal Mail was lower after Credit Suisse initiated coverage of the stock with an 'underperform' rating.
Meanwhile, equipment rental business Ashtead surged after reporting a bumper set of third-quarter earnings, driven by a strong performance from its two main divisions. The group now expects full-year results to come in ahead of previous expectations.
Jefferies upped its target price from 1,000p to 1,050p, while Panmure Gordon raised its from 971p to 1,047p. Both brokers maintained a 'buy' recommendation.
William Hill benefitted from a target price upgrade by Barclays, from 375p to 393p, while Canaccord Genuity shifted its own target price from 408p to 412p.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Ashtead Group (AHT) 956.00p +13.00%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,519.00p +5.34%
William Hill (WMH) 397.00p +4.89%
Shire Plc (SHP) 3,439.00p +4.31%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 439.90p +4.04%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,038.00p +3.80%
CRH (CRH) 1,777.00p +3.80%
Kingfisher (KGF) 403.70p +3.43%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,731.00p +3.34%
ITV (ITV) 202.20p +3.11%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Fresnillo (FRES) 924.50p -4.69%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,881.00p -1.45%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 80.90p -0.46%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 785.50p -0.38%
BP (BP.) 491.50p -0.28%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Perform Group (PER) 277.00p +19.14%
Pace (PIC) 447.60p +10.90%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,234.00p +8.98%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 110.80p +8.31%
CSR (CSR) 806.50p +7.61%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 360.00p +7.46%
Redrow (RDW) 344.10p +7.23%
Greencore Group (GNC) 278.00p +6.64%
BBA Aviation (BBA) 353.40p +6.22%
IP Group (IPO) 218.00p +5.77%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Devro (DVO) 277.00p -9.18%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 286.00p -3.15%
Regus (RGU) 225.00p -2.22%
Amlin (AML) 453.00p -2.03%
Xaar (XAR) 1,031.00p -1.62%
Henderson Group (HGG) 239.00p -1.04%
Carphone Warehouse Group (CPW) 348.60p -0.97%
888 Holdings (888) 154.20p -0.77%
Electra Private Equity (ELTA) 2,763.00p -0.43%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 67.00p -0.37%