1630: Close UK stocks ended today on a positive note, as investors digested central bank decisions from the BoE and ECB, along with a busy earnings session and several data releases from the US later on. As was widely expected by economists, the Bank Rate was maintained at 0.5 per cent, where it has stood since March 2009. The stock of asset purchases was also left unchanged at 375bn pounds. UK house prices rose by 2.4 per cent in February, the 11th consecutive increase in a year, Halifax said. In the Eurozone, the ECB announced it would keep the benchmark interest rate at 0.25 per cent despite the IMF suggesting it should cut it to address low inflation. In the US, initial weekly unemployment claims dropped by 26,000 to 323,000, well below the consensus forecast for a fall to 335,000. The FTSE 100 closed 13.07 points higher at 6,788.49.
1601: Goldman Sachs removes HSBC from its pan-European 'Conviction buy' list.
1540: "We strongly suspect that quantitative easing will prove to be too controversial a policy within the Governing Council to get adopted, even if the ECB ultimately decodes that further stimulus is necessary," writes Dr.Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight. For her part, Kathleen Brooks over at Forex.com points out that a break of 1.3830 (on monthly charts) could see the euro/dollar move back towards 1.40.
1539: NATO has called on Russia to withdraw its forces from Crimea.
1447: Shares of Inmarsat are bouncing off the bullish trend line originating in November 2012.
1404: An end to the sterilisation of bond purchases would only have a small effect and for a short time due to the maturities of debt involved.
1351: Rise in euro from 2012 trough has only lowered CPI by 0.4 percentage points, Draghi says.
1340: The fourth quarter 2016 Eurozone CPI is seen at 1.7 per cent by the ECB, which for some observers is within the bank´s 'comfort zone' for disinflation risks. Euro/dollar edges higher to 1.3803 while Cable moves lower.
1336: ECB ready to take decisive action if required, Mario Draghi says.
1330: Initial weekly US unemployment claims dropped by 26,000 to 323,000, well below the 335,000 forecast.
1310: Ahead of Mario Draghi´s press conference Kathleen Brooks, Director of Research at Forex.com, believes markets will be watching out for the ECB´s 2016 inflation forecast, what he has to say about the strength to be seen in the single currency and a possible end to the so-called 'sterilisation' of its bond purchases. FTSE 100 up 20 to 6,797.
1245: The European Central Bank has left all its main policy rates unchanged.
1208: The Bank of England has decided to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.5 per cent and the stock of asset purchases at 375bn pounds, as was widely expected. There was little reaction on the markets to the news, with the FTSE 100 continuing to trade within a narrow range ahead of the ECB decision within the next hour which could spark some volatility. The FTSE 100 is up 17.20 points at 6,792.62.
1159: Analysts at Panmure Gordon have raised their view on shares
of Aviva to 'buy' from 'hold', in the process revising their target price for the stock to 540p from 440p. "Hugely significant", they go on to say, the insurer has reached a deal with the PRA to lower its level of internal debt to 2.2bn pounds by the end of 2015.
1158: A fact sheet published by the US State Department lists what is says are ten recent falsehoods from Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding recent events in Ukraine. Amongst them, after ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich fled even his own Party of Regions turned against him, voting to confirm his withdrawal from office and to support the new government. It is therefore not correct to say that the current government of Ukraine lacks legitimacy it states.
1121: The Crimean parliament has announced that a referendum on independence will be held on March 16th. It has further asked Russia if it would allow it to rejoin the country, Interfax reports.
1111: According to a new piece of analysis from The Wall Street Journal more than 1,600 stockbrokers have bankruptcies or criminal charges on their records which were never reported to regulators. FTSE 100 up 13 to 6,789.
1030: Gains on the FTSE 100 have been trimmed on the back of heavy falls from engineering group IMI after it failed to impress with an eight per cent increase in adjusted profits for 2013. It said that it expects modest revenue growth in the first half, only when excluding the adverse impact of exchange rates. Rolls-Royce is also down after Citi analysts said that share-price upside may be dampened by 'investor concerns over potential M&A and possible further accounting issues'. The FTSE 100 is up just 4.44 points at 6,779.86, well below a high of 6,806.62 reached early on.
0845: The Footsie has started the day slightly higher, despite the mixed close to trading seen overnight on Wall Street. Of interest ahead of this afternoon´s European Central Bank policy meeting, some market commentary is describing early trading in the euro/dollar as something akin to a coiled spring as traders prove reticent to make any moves ahead of that decision. Aviva, Aggreko and Schroders are all moving higher following their latest figures. The rise in the latter seems particularly noteworthy as the stock has popped above a long-running level of technical resistance at about 481p. Asian equity benchmarks are in the blue this morning. Lastly, Dallas Fed President Robert Fisher seems to have taken issue last night with the 'eye-poping' levels reached by some market metrics. FTSE 100 up 25 to 6,801.