- Feb Consumer Confidence holds steady
- House prices rise at fastest rate in nearly four years
- Yellen comments send S&P 500
to record high
techMARK 2,904.42 +0.08%
FTSE 100 6,808.29 -0.03%
FTSE 250 16,595.16 +0.44%
The FTSE ignored record gains in the US to inch lower early on, as investors geared up for a data-heavy session and digested another raft of company news.
The top tier index fell 4.14 points to 6,806.13 in the first hour of trade.
The Stateside gains, which saw the benchmark S&P 500 end the session at a record high, followed comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, at the Senate Banking Committee.
Yellen pointed out that a number of the economic releases in recent days indicated softer spending that may partly reflect adverse weather conditions.
"Part of that softness may reflect adverse weather conditions, but at this point it's difficult to discern exactly how much," she said. "In the weeks and months ahead, my colleagues and I will be attentive to signals that indicate whether the recovery is progressing in line with our earlier expectations."
UK house prices rise at fastest rate seen in nearly four years
According to the Nationwide Building Society, house prices jumped 0.6% in February, marking a 9.4% year-on-year gain, the quickest rate seen in almost four years.
Nationwide's Chief Economist, Robert Gardner, said: "Price growth is being supported by the fact that the supply of housing remains constrained, with housing completions still well below their pre-crisis levels."
The average price of a UK home is now £177,846, although this is still nearly 5% below the peak seen in 2007.
UK consumer confidence reading kicks of data-heavy session
It was revealed this morning that Britain's GfK Consumer Confidence reading showed sentiment in February was unchanged at -7 from the previous month, which itself was at the highest level in more than six years.
Managing Director of Social Research at GfK, Nick Moon, said: "After the substantial six point rise in the index last month, holding steady, rather than any form of correction, is good news. Just a year ago the index stood at -26, so the current level is massively better."
In the Eurozone inflation figures will be a prime focus as the European Central Bank (ECB) comes under mounting pressure to tackle falling prices.
Consumer prices in February are forecast by the consensus to have risen by 0.8% in February, in line with the prior month, and well below the ECB's 2% target. Barclays Research and Credit Suisse, on the other hand, see it coming in at 0.6%.
Alpari Market Analysts Craig Erlam said: "There's lots of other data being released this morning aside from this, but it consists predominantly of low level that rarely has any impact on the markets, such as Italian unemployment, German, Irish and Greek retail sales and French consumer spending.
"All of these are clearly important and help to give a better picture of where the recovery is being felt more, however their impact on the market tends to be minimal as people are more concerned with the bigger picture."
Mondi leads risers after record results
Mondi Group, the international packaging and paper company, delivered a strong rise in annual pre-tax profit, driven by low costs and exposure to higher growth markets. On a 12% rise in revenue to €6,476m, pre-tax profit leapt 36% from €368m to €499m. Basic earnings per share rose from 50.1 cents to 79.8 cents.
William Hill also moved higher despite the fact its annual pre-tax profit fell six per cent to £257m as the gaming company invested heavily in it its online offering. In an effort to keep up with the growing online market, with consumers opting to gamble on tables, computers and smartphones, the company launched mobile in new markets and took over full control of William Hill Online.
Financial services group Old Mutual climbed after revealing that its underlying activities had performed strongly in 2013. Old Mutual, which owns pension provider Skandia, unveiled adjusted operating profit of £1.6bn, similar to last year in reported currency but up 15% at constant currency.
Meanwhile, lower margins in North America and the merger between publishing houses Penguin and Random House pushed full year operating profits at Pearson six per cent lower to £871m as the company warned of a further hit on earnings in 2014. The Financial Times publisher company said 2014 earnings per share at current exchange rates
would be 62p to 67p as the pound strengthened against the dollar, adding that another £50m in restructuring costs would have to be set aside.
Ruper Soames, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aggreko, has announced his plan to step down from the group to take up the same role at Serco Group. After 11 years at the helm, he is due to leave the company on April 24th.
The owner of British Airways and Iberia, International Airlines Group, fell sharply despite hailing the success of its turnaround strategy as it reported annual operating profit of €770m against losses of €23m a year ago.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Old Mutual (OML) 193.20p +3.76%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,073.00p +3.67%
William Hill (WMH) 385.50p +2.85%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,265.50p +1.43%
BG Group (BG.) 1,102.50p +1.29%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,515.00p +1.07%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,440.00p +0.98%
Prudential (PRU) 1,366.00p +0.96%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 241.40p +0.92%
Experian (EXPN) 1,108.00p +0.91%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Pearson (PSON) 1,014.00p -5.76%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,580.00p -3.07%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 439.90p -2.63%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,247.50p -2.58%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 320.30p -1.93%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,779.00p -1.79%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 96.50p -1.63%
Fresnillo (FRES) 951.00p -1.25%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,418.00p -1.19%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 911.00p -1.14%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Serco Group (SRP) 453.50p +10.39%
Man Group (EMG) 100.70p +4.79%
Rightmove (RMV) 2,746.00p +4.61%
Interserve (IRV) 595.50p +3.66%
Renishaw (RSW) 2,094.00p +3.61%
UBM (UBM) 721.00p +3.00%
Perform Group (PER) 235.00p +2.49%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 794.50p +2.12%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 387.70p +1.97%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 436.10p +1.94%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Laird (LRD) 312.90p -4.89%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 303.70p -2.03%
Homeserve (HSV) 326.50p -1.98%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 287.00p -1.68%
Evraz (EVR) 70.00p -1.48%
Polymetal International (POLY) 641.50p -1.31%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,463.00p -1.22%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 54.50p -1.00%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 158.50p -0.94%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 190.20p -0.89%