- Higher-than-expected LTRO take-up.
- ITV surges on 'exceptional turnaround'.
- Ludowici issues overshadow impressive 2011 for Weir.
The initial celebration of the results of the European Central Bank's (ECB's) refinancing operation quickly faded in late morning trade, with the Footsie broadly flat by lunchtime.
The ECB announced the receipt of €529.5bn in bids for liquidity at its second long-term financing operation (known as LTROs), compared to the €489bn allotted back in December. While consensus estimates were around the €470bn mark, analysts' predictions ranged from €200bn to an eye-watering €1tn. Some 800 banks made bids this time around, compared to just 523 in the first LTRO.
"The total number of bidders suggests that a lot of small banks participated, which may be seen as encouraging by the ECB, especially in terms of financing of the real economy," according to analysts at Barclays Capital.
In domestic news, Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King is being quoted as saying, before parliament's Treasury Committee, that "by and large, I don't think there's any hard and fast expectation that we're inevitably going to do much more (...) what matters is what we think. We will take whatever action we think is appropriate and at that point, expectations will adjust."
Meanwhile, total lending to individuals rose by £1.8bn in January, according to the latest data released today by the Bank of England, to £1.456tn. That compares with a six month average increase of £1.1bn. GfK's monthly index of consumer confidence remained at the -29 point level during the month of February, a seven month high. Consensus estimates has been for a small increase to -27.
ITV, IAG JUMP AFTER FULL-YEAR RESULTS
Terrestrial broadcaster ITV jumped over 7% after it shrugged off concerns about a subdued advertising market to achieve top-line growth and forecast-beating profits. Prime Markets said that the results represented an "exceptional turnaround" admits a tough trading environment and while the business performance headlong numbers impress, "it is the restructuring behind the scenes...that really sets these results apart."
British Airways and Iberia owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) reported a five-fold increase in pre-tax profit in the year ended December 31st, from €84m to €503m, respite a 29.7% increase in fuel costs.
Meanwhile, Asia-focused banking colossus Standard Chartered notched up its ninth successive year of record income and profit in 2011 and reckons it is in good shape to face whatever 2012 throws at it. The stock, along with banking peers Lloyds and HSBC, was making gains.
Leading the downside was Essar Energy, two days after reporting a sharp drop in full-year pre-tax profits.
Engineering giant Weir hit its 2014 profit targets early, after seeing adjusted pre-tax profits rise by a third in 2011, helped by record performances in its Minerals and Oil and Gas divisions. However, despite the strong performance, shares
were down 3.5%, owing to the group's ongoing battles in its bidding war with Danish rival FLSmidth for the takeover of Australian mining equipment supplier Ludowici.
BHP Billiton and Diageo were among the fallers on the FTSE 100 after going trading without the right to its latest dividend. Meanwhile, Kier, Hays and easyJet were falling after going ex-dividend on the FTSE 250.
FTSE 250: INTERSERVE, NATIONAL EXPRESS IN DEMAND
Support services and construction group Interserve managed to increase profit despite tough conditions in construction markets in 2011. Gross revenue, which includes the company's share of associates and joint ventures, rose 0.2% to £2,430m in 2011 from £3,215m the year before.
National Express reported record annual profit and hiked its dividend after a stellar performance from its UK coach and US school bus operations. Pre-tax profit rose to £180.2m in the year ended 31 December 2011 from £97.3m the year before after growth in every division.
House builder Taylor Wimpey fell after reporting revenues and profits that came in shy of expectations.
FTSE 100 - Risers
ITV (ITV) 86.25p +7.14%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,954.00p +2.52%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,095.00p +2.43%
Capita (CPI) 766.50p +2.06%
Evraz (EVR) 425.60p +2.04%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,654.50p +2.00%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,571.00p +1.55%
Centrica (CNA) 305.40p +1.53%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG) 165.20p +1.23%
Anglo American (AAL) 2,741.00p +1.18%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Essar Energy (ESSR) 106.80p -5.82%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,061.00p -1.85%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,167.00p -1.72%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,477.00p -1.66%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 575.00p -1.46%
Schroders (SDR) 1,556.00p -1.39%
IMI (IMI) 975.50p -1.12%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 170.45p -1.10%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 349.10p -1.10%
Diageo (DGE) 1,492.50p -1.00%
FTSE 250 - Risers
International Personal Finance (IPF) 243.50p +8.61%
Interserve (IRV) 307.40p +5.27%
Bodycote (BOY) 421.00p +5.25%
Rightmove (RMV) 1,423.00p +4.63%
National Express Group (NEX) 228.80p +3.44%
Elementis (ELM) 163.00p +2.97%
Lonmin (LMI) 1,129.00p +2.17%
Rank Group (RNK) 141.90p +2.09%
Ophir Energy (OPHR) 437.30p +2.05%
RPS Group (RPS) 229.30p +1.96%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 238.60p -5.84%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 49.61p -5.77%
Kier Group (KIE) 1,234.00p -5.08%
Henderson Group (HGG) 122.20p -4.75%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 442.40p -4.47%
Beazley (BEZ) 145.10p -4.41%
easyJet (EZJ) 439.70p -3.97%
New World Resources A Shares (NWR) 525.00p -3.49%
Kesa Electricals (KESA) 73.30p -3.49%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 280.40p -3.48%