1630: Close The FTSE ended Thursday's session in positive territory, led by IAG after its carrier British Airways announced new routes and terminal changes for summer 2013. Heading the other way was Aberdeen Asset Management after the group warned that while stock markets have begun strongly in the 2103, it believes that 'uncertainty still persists and that further periods of volatility remain likely in the months ahead'. Looking abroad, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits tumbled to a five-year low last week, the largest drop since February 2010. In other good news for the US, housing starts surged 12.1% in December to a near five-year high. The FTSE closed up 28 points at 6,132.
1503:The Footsie has held on to gains after the decent jobless claims and housing starts figures prompted a strong start on Wall Street. This is despite shares
in banking heavyweights Bank of America and Citigroup falling heavily this morning after their results. In other news, the Philly Fed index dropped to -5.8 in January, from 4.6 the month before. Consensus estimates were for a reading of around 6.0. In London, Carnival is flat despite announcing that it has raised its share buy-back programme (first announced in September 2007) by 835m dollars. The FTSE 100 is up 19 points at 6,123.
1330: US housing starts rose by 12.1 per cent month-on-month in December, to an annualised rate of 954,000 (Consensus: 890,000). Initial weekly unemployment claims fell 26,000 to 335,000 (Consensus: 365,000). FTSE 100 up 18 to 6,122.
1300: Citigroup publishes weaker than expected quarterly revenues, shares fall 1 per cent in pre-open.
1211: Bank of America has just unveiled fourth quarter earnings per share of 3 cents, which may not be directly comparable with analysts' consensus estimate of 20 cents. Revenues came in below what was foreseen, at 19.61bn dollars. Citigroup's numbers are due out at 13:00. FTSE 100 down 1 to 6,103.
1011: The FTSE 100 is trading down five points at 6,099 as strong gains for AB Foods continue to be offset by mining heavyweights Xstrata, Rio Tinto and Glencore. AB Foods has surged this morning after saying that trading in the first 16 weeks of the new fiscal year have been ahead of its expectations, driven by an 'outstanding performance' at its Primark division. Both Canaccord Genuity and Panmure Gordon have raised their target prices for the stock this morning. On the FTSE 250, Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail has jumped over 15 per cent after lifting its profit guidance for the full year after a decent performance at Argos. Seymour Pierce has upgraded the stock to 'hold', while Bank of America has retained its 'buy' rating and lifted its target price.
1005: The Spanish Treasury has managed to sell the maximum 4.5bn euros in medium and long-term bond which it had been targeting. While the bid-to-cover ration on the tranche of 2 year debt came down by quite a bit (2.0 versus 4.81) the market seems to think that the above were a fair result. 10 year Spanish bond yields are now flat. Significantly, the 30 year bonds on offer did not see increased demand as some had hoped.
0851: UK stocks have begun the session with ever so slight losses after Rio Tinto announced 8.642bn pounds in impairment charges linked to some of its coal and aluminium assets, only to then bounce back. As well, miners are lower as a group at the moment. Analysts at Exane have downgraded Xstrata to neutral from outperform. Associated British Foods is leading gains on the Footsie after saying that trading has been in line, with an outstanding sales performance from its Primark unit. IMI is also moving higher on the back of positive comments out from Galvan Research and Credit Suisse. The latter has also raised its price target on Tate&Lyle to 845p from 750p before. A barrage of economic data is due out later in the day Stateside. Currency and sovereign debt markets are relatively calm this morning. Of interest, Bloomberg TV is today highlighting the strong demand out of London for Italian debt at the country's last Treasury auction. FTSE 100 up 5 to 6,109.