Markets across Europe were staging a slight rebound on Wednesday but sentiment was still fragile as political instability in Italy spread fears that the Eurozone crisis could drag on for some time yet.
Stocks sank yesterday (FTSE 100 down 1.3%, Cac 40 down 2.7% and FTSE MIB down 4.9%) in the wake of the Italian elections which revealed growing support for anti-austerity parties. Pier Luigi Bersani's centre-left party won the lower house by a narrow margin but failed to gain enough votes to secure the senate.
Italian bond yields fluctuated this morning as the Treasury sold off €6.5bn in five- and 10-year debt, meeting the high part range of its target range (€4-6.5bn). On the secondary market, the borrowing rate on the benchmark 10-year note was down six basis points at 4.85%, having surged by over 40 basis points the day before.
Indices gained on Wall Street last night after the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, defended the bank's asset purchase programme, saying that it was necessary until the job market improves substantially.
"In Europe, traders are also taking heart in Bernanke's accommodative remarks but moves to the upside are likely to be limited given the unease at the outcome of the inconclusive Italian elections," said market strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital.
Supporting markets this morning was economic data from Europe which showed that economic sentiment rose for the fourth consecutive month in February, according to the European Commission. Meanwhile, fourth-quarter gross domestic product in the UK contracted at a 0.3% pace, as expected.
FTSE 100: Weir, ITV gain after results
Engineering solutions group Weir was a high riser after managing to register record profits and margins last year and saying that it expects another year of profitable growth in 2013.
Heading the other way was oilfield services group Petrofac after underwhelming with a 9.0% rise in revenue and 17% increase in net profit in 2012.
After an earlier rise following its full-year figures, broadcaster ITV had slipped into the red though the company has it played down market chatter about bid speculation. The firm announced this morning that it would be rewarding shareholders with a special dividend worth £156m after posting 2012 results which showed a rise in profits and revenues.
Global banking giant HSBC was higher after Investec upgraded its rating from 'hold' to 'add' after the stock's recent underperformance. The broker said: "After 46 disposals/closures in two years with a wide array of balance sheet/income statement effects, net net, we see HSBC edging closer to its 12% return on equity target in 2013e."
Energy company Centrica was subdued despite saying 2012 earnings rose 5.0% as cold weather during the year pushed up gas consumption.
FTSE 250: bwin.party soars after broker upgrade
Online gaining group bwin.party jumped after Citigroup upgraded its rating for the stock to 'neutral'.
Bodycote, the world's largest thermal processing services provider, surged after operating profits rose 14.4% in 2012, boosted by growth in its global Aerospace and Energy business.
Restaurant and pub operator Restaurant Group also rose after reporting a sharp increase in full-year earnings, lifting its dividend payment and saying its new financial year had started well.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,242.00p +3.60%
Carnival (CCL) 2,441.00p +1.75%
Prudential (PRU) 958.50p +1.70%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 164.20p +1.42%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,673.00p +1.39%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 120.50p +1.26%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 253.20p +1.24%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,618.00p +1.12%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 720.70p +1.08%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 845.00p +1.02%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,506.00p -5.70%
ITV (ITV) 116.50p -3.08%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 347.40p -2.47%
Intu Properties (INTU) 336.20p -1.95%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 658.50p -1.57%
Serco Group (SRP) 566.50p -1.39%
Glencore International (GLEN) 378.75p -1.12%
Croda International (CRDA) 2,556.00p -1.08%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 335.90p -1.06%
Diageo (DGE) 1,941.00p -1.02%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 154.70p +12.26%
Bodycote (BOY) 548.00p +8.41%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 415.00p +6.68%
Ted Baker (TED) 1,238.00p +4.03%
Diploma (DPLM) 620.00p +3.33%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 126.20p +3.27%
3i Group (III) 314.10p +3.25%
Savills (SVS) 514.00p +3.11%
SVG Capital (SVI) 378.50p +2.35%
Stobart Group Ltd. (STOB) 94.05p +2.28%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Beazley (BEZ) 200.30p -6.75%
Henderson Group (HGG) 152.70p -4.44%
Bumi (BUMI) 339.50p -3.00%
Homeserve (HSV) 235.70p -2.48%
easyJet (EZJ) 973.00p -2.46%
Carillion (CLLN) 311.00p -2.02%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 198.00p -1.98%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 510.00p -1.92%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 399.50p -1.92%
Lonmin (LMI) 341.70p -1.87%