- BoE keeps policy on hold
- ECB decision, press conference in focus
- US futures higher ahead of data
techMARK 2,769.50 +0.89%
FTSE 100 6,517.70 +0.93%
FTSE 250 15,697.91 +0.88%
After a cautious start, UK markets pushed firmly into positive territory on Thursday and were registering decent gains by midday as investors focused on a raft of blue-chip earnings, economic data and central bank policy decisions.
The FTSE 100 was trading around 0.9% higher at 6,518.
As was widely expected, the Bank of England said at noon that it kept monetary policy unchanged, leaving the asset purchase programme at £375bn and the Bank Rate at 0.5% - the Bank Rate has remained at this level since the last rate cut in March 2009.
However, the upcoming European Central Bank (ECB) this afternoon is likely to grab more attention given last month's surprise dip in inflation in the Eurozone. While some analysts have predicted a potential reduction in the main refinancing rate from the current record-low 0.25%, market consensus expects the ECB to hold steady, though the subsequent press conference with President Mario Draghi will be closely watched.
Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari said that gains across Europe this morning could be as a result of stocks simply paring some of the significant losses that have been made since the start of the year.
"However, given the timing of these gains before two central bank announcements when we would normally see an element of risk aversion, I think this also reflects the dovish expectations ahead of the ECB rate decision," he said.
Investors largely shrugged off an unexpected drop in December factory orders in Germany due to weaker domestic demand. In seasonally adjusted terms factory orders fell 0.5% from November, while the consensus was looking for a small rise.
Meanwhile, stock futures in the US were pointing to a strong start on Wall Street ahead of jobless claims figures, as investors awaited the Labor Department's all-important non-farm payroll data due out tomorrow. Labour-market figures continue to be scrutinised after the Federal Reserve's decision last month to continue tapering its stimulus programme.
Tomorrow's report is expected to show that non-farm payrolls rose to 184,000 in January from just 74,000 in December.
Smith & Nephew, Vodafone, AstraZeneca...
Medical equipment manufacturer Smith & Nephew beat analysts' forecasts as it registered a strong end to 2013 with underlying revenue growth picking up in the fourth quarter. The company also lifted its full-year dividend by 5% and gave a confident outlook for 2014, lifting shares
higher this morning.
Vodafone gained after third-quarter revenue declined by a less-than-expected 3.6%. Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said that sales trends would begin to improve.
AstraZeneca was in the red after saying that 2013 annual revenue fell 6% to $25.7bn as the drug maker was hurt by competition from generic brands. Core earnings per share fell 26% year-on-year to $5.05.
Catering giant Compass was slightly higher after keeping expectations for the full-year organic results unchanged after a "good" first quarter. However, the company warned that adverse currency movements may dampen statutory numbers due to the recent strength in sterling.
TUI Travel underwhelmed despite saying that it is confident of hitting full-year forecasts after underlying operating losses narrowed in the first quarter.
Imagination Technologies surged after announcing that US gadget giant Apple as extended its multi-year, multi-use license agreement with the chip designer.
Consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser was making gains after Credit Suisse lifted its rating for the stock from 'neutral' to 'outperform', saying that investors should look past concerns regarding its struggling pharmaceuticals division.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,809.00p +3.26%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 424.80p +2.96%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 222.10p +2.87%
Prudential (PRU) 1,264.00p +2.60%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,379.00p +2.53%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 894.00p +2.23%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 696.00p +2.20%
Shire Plc (SHP) 3,134.00p +1.92%
GKN (GKN) 395.20p +1.83%
Wolseley (WOS) 3,283.00p +1.80%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
AstraZeneca (AZN) 3,807.50p -1.79%
Mondi (MNDI) 930.50p -0.96%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 102.90p -0.68%
G4S (GFS) 231.00p -0.65%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,215.00p -0.46%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,386.00p -0.45%
TUI Travel (TT.) 422.50p -0.45%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 846.00p -0.41%
William Hill (WMH) 343.00p -0.26%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,596.00p -0.19%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 188.00p +15.98%
Supergroup (SGP) 1,582.00p +6.03%
Beazley (BEZ) 268.50p +5.96%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 334.10p +4.70%
Grainger (GRI) 221.60p +4.58%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,238.00p +4.03%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 61.50p +3.71%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 481.30p +3.62%
Michael Page International (MPI) 464.40p +3.04%
Lonmin (LMI) 310.40p +3.02%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 156.80p -3.92%
Serco Group (SRP) 406.30p -3.72%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 15.31p -3.41%
Foxtons Group (FOXT) 363.90p -1.91%
Premier Oil (PMO) 288.10p -1.27%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 300.40p -1.18%
Riverstone Energy Limited (RSE) 899.00p -0.66%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 150.00p -0.60%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,552.00p -0.58%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 691.50p -0.58%