Stocks were trading broadly flat on Wednesday morning with markets rangebound after hitting a four-week high the day before, as traders continued to digest recent developments in Syria after the government agreed to hand over its chemical weapons.
The FTSE 100 was swinging between gains and losses today with just 17 points separating its intraday low (6,567) and high (6,584). This comes after London's benchmark index finished Tuesday's session at 6,583.99 - this was its highest closing price since August 14th when it ended the day at 6,587.43.
Stocks across Europe meanwhile were extending gains this morning with the STOXX Europe 600 index edging higher after hitting its highest level since May 22nd yesterday.
Global stocks rose strongly on Tuesday after Syria accepted a Russian proposal to hand over all chemical weapons to international control in an attempt to avoid US military action.
In a nationally televised speech last night, US President Barack Obama asked Congress to delay a vote on military action against Bashar al-Assad's regime in light of recent diplomatic developments. He said that the Russian initiative "has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force".
Craig Erlam, Market Analyst at Alpari, said: "The only question now is whether Assad will go along with the proposal, or whether this is, as some suspect, just a tactic to delay the vote in Congress,"
UK jobless rate edges lower
Supporting stocks this morning was a fall in the UK unemployment rate from 7.8% to 7.7% in the three months to July, according to the Office for National Statistics. The number of people claiming jobless benefits fell by 32,600 in August compared to a revised fall of 36,300 in July, the biggest decline since June 1997. Economists had forecast a drop of 21,000.
Bank of England (BoE) Governor, Mark Carney, has vowed that interest rates would remain at a record low of 0.5% as long as the unemployment rate holds above 7%.
Analyst Sasha Nugent from Caxton FX said that the decent report will "most definitely cause the market to question BoE's policy ahead of tomorrow's Inflation Report. All figures are pointing to the fact that maybe the market is right, the BoE may have to raise rates sooner than they think."
FTSE 100: ARM, Glencore lead the risers
Leading the risers was ARM Holdings, the chip designer, which rose strongly in the aftermath of last night's launch by customer Apple of its new iPhone models. The phones use a new 64-bit processor, which a number of analysts believe will equate to an increased royalty rate to ARM than the 32-bit previously used.
Glencore Xstrata was continuing to perform well after yesterday raising its target for expected synergies post-merger and cutting capex guidance. Deutshce Bank, JPMorgan and Jefferies all raised their target price for the stock this morning with the latter saying that it remains "one of our top picks".
Heading the other way was Admiral, G4S, Hargreaves Lansdown, Land Securities and Standard Life after going ex-dividend, meaning that from today investors will not be able to benefit from each companies' latest dividend payments.
Costa and Premier Inn owner Whitbread was extending losses after falling sharply on Tuesday as it announced a slowdown in second-quarter growth. Weighing on the stock this morning was a downgrade by JPMorgan Cazenove to 'neutral' as the bank said the shares
are now "fully valued" after their recent 25% outperformance of the UK market over the past year.
The same bank also cut its rating for BSkyB to 'neutral', causing the pay-TV and broadband group to fall this morning.
Home improvement retailer Kingfisher, owner of B&Q and Screwfix, declined after reporting a 1.6% fall in first-half profits as it blamed depressed consumer confidence and cold weather.
FTSE 250: African Barrick Gold slumps after COO exit
African Barrick Gold was a heavy faller this morning after Chief Operating Officer Marco Zolezzi resigned with immediate effect. Zolezzi, who has been COO since September 2010, is leaving to pursue other interests.
Gold mining peer Polymetal was also lower as gold prices
fluctuated at a three-week low. Goldman Sachs today estimated that bullion prices will decline into 2014 as the Federal Reserve scales back its stimulus programme. It said that the next's policy meeting later this month "could prove the catalyse to push gold prices lower".
FTSE 100 - Risers
ARM Holdings (ARM) 981.00p +4.25%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 334.80p +1.84%
National Grid (NG.) 745.50p +1.15%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 1,067.00p +0.95%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 1,191.00p +0.93%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 822.50p +0.92%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 209.65p +0.84%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,241.50p +0.75%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,139.00p +0.71%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 296.40p +0.65%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,227.00p -4.14%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,187.00p -3.10%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,572.00p -2.50%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 764.00p -2.24%
Kingfisher (KGF) 410.80p -2.19%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 76.30p -2.18%
G4S (GFS) 253.90p -2.08%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,155.00p -1.95%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,020.00p -1.92%
Carnival (CCL) 2,406.00p -1.80%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Carillion (CLLN) 323.10p +3.79%
Perform Group (PER) 547.00p +3.70%
UBM (UBM) 749.50p +3.02%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 310.90p +2.95%
Premier Farnell (PFL) 234.70p +2.76%
888 Holdings (888) 153.10p +2.41%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 191.30p +2.30%
Devro (DVO) 335.80p +1.91%
Informa (INF) 541.50p +1.88%
Interserve (IRV) 579.50p +1.85%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 155.30p -6.67%
Polymetal International (POLY) 729.50p -3.51%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 321.90p -3.13%
International Public Partnerships Ltd. (INPP) 124.00p -2.67%
Rank Group (RNK) 155.10p -2.39%
Temple Bar Inv Trust (TMPL) 1,193.00p -2.29%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 113.00p -2.25%
Unite Group (UTG) 356.10p -2.06%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,072.00p -1.83%
Savills (SVS) 630.00p -1.79%