- BoE, ECB meetings in focus
- EU leaders hold emerging talks over Russia
- Aggreko, Aviva and Schroders impress with results
- IMI sinks sharply
techMARK 2,902.57 +0.12%
FTSE 100 6,801.49 +0.38%
FTSE 250 16,692.40 +0.47%
UK markets opened with decent gains on Thursday as investors assessed the latest developments in Ukraine and awaited a busy day on the macroeconomic front.
Along with a flurry of economic data from across the globe, markets will be focusing central bank decisions in the UK and Europe.
The FTSE 100 was trading 0.4% higher at 6,801 in early trading.
The Bank of England is expected to hold fire on monetary policy when it announces its decision at midday, keeping the Bank Rate at 0.5% and the size of its asset purchase programme at £375bn.
The European Central Bank (ECB) decision after lunch is likely to grab more attention given the rising deflationary risks in the Eurozone. Nevertheless, the majority of analysts seem to expect the ECB will keep the benchmark interest rate at the record low level of 0.25% after the slight improvement in recent economic data and the small tick-up in consumer price inflation in February.
"If the ECB were to cut today when inflation is edging higher it rather begs the question why they didn't act last month when inflation was falling. For this reason no action seems the most likely course of action given that there has been no material deterioration in any of the data since the last meeting," said Chief Market Analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets.
However, comments from ECB President Mario Draghi earlier this week have ramped up speculation about some sort of action from policymakers today, after he said that inflation is "way below" the 2% target and risks becoming entrenched at low levels.
The ongoing crisis in Ukraine will continue to act as a backdrop for markets today as European Union leaders meet for emergency talks to decide on their response to Russia's increased military presence in the Crimea region.
Aggreko, Aviva and Schroders surge
Temporary power group Aggreko jumped strongly this morning after confirming that it would return £200m in capital to shareholders, as it reported an 8% fall in 2013 earnings, in line with company expectations.
Also higher was insurer Aviva as its turnaround under Chief Executive Mark Wilson saw encouraging progress. 2013 results exceeded most analysts expectations with operating profits rising 6%.
Schroders also surged after hiking its full-year dividend by 35% following a record year for the asset management group in 2013 as the company saw profits increase 41%.
Results from engineering group IMI, however, failed to impress as the company reported a 3% increase in revenues from continuing operations. The company said it expects "modest" growth in the first half of 2014, but only when excluding the adverse impact of exchange rates.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Aggreko (AGK) 1,714.00p +8.96%
Aviva (AV.) 503.00p +7.92%
Schroders (SDR) 2,744.00p +5.95%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,557.00p +2.43%
Fresnillo (FRES) 934.50p +2.35%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 338.45p +1.88%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 388.10p +1.60%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,533.00p +1.52%
Old Mutual (OML) 199.40p +1.42%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 81.81p +1.34%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
IMI (IMI) 1,464.00p -5.43%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 232.80p -1.36%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,012.00p -1.27%
Meggitt (MGGT) 480.60p -1.23%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 931.50p -1.01%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 786.50p -0.82%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,241.00p -0.56%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,852.00p -0.54%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 300.80p -0.53%
Carnival (CCL) 2,380.00p -0.50%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Alent (ALNT) 322.60p +4.91%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 894.00p +4.26%
Inmarsat (ISAT) 700.00p +3.86%
Man Group (EMG) 104.90p +3.76%
Synthomer (SYNT) 278.50p +3.72%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 69.50p +3.50%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 306.10p +3.41%
Evraz (EVR) 65.45p +3.40%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 145.00p +2.91%
Carillion (CLLN) 387.00p +2.79%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 172.00p -8.80%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 302.70p -5.82%
Perform Group (PER) 283.00p -4.07%
Soco International (SIA) 412.10p -2.37%
Unite Group (UTG) 441.70p -2.28%
Pace (PIC) 465.50p -1.90%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 4,875.00p -1.69%
CSR (CSR) 776.50p -1.46%
Computacenter (CCC) 680.50p -1.38%
Renishaw (RSW) 2,146.00p -0.88%