1630: Close Stocks made decent gains on Thursday, partly on the back of the BoE's decision to refrain from further easing to boost the UK economy. The asset purchase programme was unchanged at 375bn pounds. The FTSE was also boosted by another round of positive results for 2012, led by Aggreko after it posted an 11 per cent rise in pre-tax profit to 367m pounds. Leading the downside was Aviva after it slashed its dividend and posted a loss for the year. In economic news, the BoE kept interest rates at their record low of 0.5 per cent. The FTSE closed up 12 points at 6,439.
1405: Markets seem to be reacting favourably to the comments which are now coming out of the European Central Bank´s press conference. In particular, one must note Mr.Draghi´s reference to the fact that a cut in the main policy rate was indeed discussed. In that same vein, the ECB has indicated that it does now see downside risks to growth. FTSE 100 up 25 to 6,452.
1214: Ben Thompson, the Managing Director at the Legal & General Mortgage Club, reacted to the Bank of England policy decision, saying: 'it feels important to not provide too much 'medicine' in the shape of quantitative easing. However, of equal importance is for the Bank to give the tentative recovery every chance. We very much need this to continue and strengthen, and low borrowing costs for yet another month will do no harm whatsoever.'
1200: The Bank of England has revealed that policy-makers had voted to maintain interest rates at their record-low level of 0.5 per cent (where they have been since March 2009) and keep its asset purchase programme unchanged at 375bn pounds. However, it remains to be seen how tight the vote actually was as the proposal to increase asset purchases continues to gather support.
1006: The Bank of England will unveil its policy decision at midday, shortly followed by the European Central Bank at 12:45. Ahead of the announcements, Matt Basi, Head of UK Sales Trading at CMC Markets, said in an e-mail: 'Whilst any immediate change in policy remains unlikely, the macro backdrop across the Eurozone in particular is such that additional liquidity programmes may come in for support from a greater proportion of each board, as more hawkish members are forced to consider desperate measures.' Meanwhile, on the Footsie, while Aviva has dropped sharply, well-received results from Aggreko, IMI, Schroders and Standard Life are providing a lift, meaning that the FTSE 100 has extended gains and is up 27 points at 6,454.
0920: The FTSE 100 is now trading nine points higher at 6,437, having pared earlier gains as investors refrain from building positions ahead of the central-bank decisions later in the day. The Fed's Beige Book released last night is providing some support for markets this morning, after saying that the US economy expanded at a 'modest to moderate pace' at the start of 2013 due to strong car sales, hiring gains and a recovery in the housing sector. Aviva continues to lead the fallers on the Footsie, down 13.4 per cent after cutting its dividend. Panmure Gordon analyst Barrie Cornes said this morning: 'Whilst many investors will be very disappointed, we also believe that this removes the potentially damaging uncertainty over a future potential cut.' Nevertheless, the broker downgraded its rating for Aviva from 'buy' to 'hold'.
0841: UK stocks have begun the day slightly higher despite the mixed showing put in by Wall Street overnight. That comes ahead of meetings from the European Central Bank and the Bank of England later in the day. The latter, at least, is expected to stay on hold but ECB President Draghi's press conference will be closely watched and could yet move markets. Then, of course, there is tomorrow´s monthly US employment report. Aviva is a drag on the market this morning after announcing that it is to slash its dividend payments following its 2012 loss. FTSE 100 up 18 to 6,445.