1630: Close The FTSE closed firmly in positive territory on Wednesday, boosted by housing data from the US. In UK company news, Weir was a high riser after managing to register record profits and margins last year and saying that it expects another year of profitable growth in 2013. Meanwhile, Petrofac was a big faller after underwhelming with a nine per cent rise in revenue and 17 per cent increase in net profit in 2012. Elsewhere, the UK´s GDP decreased by 0.3 per cent in volume terms between the third and fourth quarter of 2012, according to data from the ONS. The FTSE closed up 55 points at 6,326.
1457: Buying has picked up after some upbeat economic data from the US, which has prompted a strong start on Wall Street. US pending home sales rose by 4.5 per cent month-on-month in January after a 1.9 per cent fall in December, according to the National Association of Realtors. This was well ahead of the 1.7 per cent rise expected by the consensus of analysts. The FTSE 100 in London is up 17 points at 6,288.
1421: Shares of Weir Group are attempting to break technical resistance towards 2,250p.
1336: Analysts at Investec are today highlighting the fact that broadcaster ITV has only announced a special dividend of 156m pounds (4p/share) versus market hopes for a share buy-back of up to 250m pounds - still nice and reflecting strong free-cash-flow and B/S but this may slightly disappoint the mega bulls. FTSE 100 up 8 to 6,278.
1330: US durable goods orders contracted at a 5.2% month-on-month pace in
January, far below consensus estimates. The drop, however, largely reflects falls for civilian and military aircraft. Excluding transportation durable goods orders increased by 1.9 per cent month-on-month, ahead of consensus estimates.
1216: ENRC is moving lower after announcing that it will incur in a higher than expected tax rate of 45% for 2012.
1149: According to Dr. Luca Cazzulani, Deputy Head of fixed income strategy at Unicredit: "The test shows that demand for BTPs (long-term Italian debt) remains healthy, with investors attracted by the current yield levels."
1010: Italy´s Treasury has sold 4bn euros of 10 year debt (and another 2.5bn euros of 5 year debt) with a bid-to-cover of 1.65 versus 1.32 the last time around. "That is good," comment analysts at Digital Look. However, the yields on offer came in at 4.83 per cent versus 4.17 per cent the last time around. 10 year bond yields are dropping by 5bp to 4.84 per cent now. FTSE 100 up 11 to 6,281.
0951: Deputy Bank of England Governor Charles Bean has indicated that the central bank stands ready to do more if warranted. Italian long-term debt auction results due at any moment.
0930: Fourth quarter gross domestic product contracted at a 0.3 per cent pace in the last three months of 2012, as expected, ONS figures show. Worth pointing out, GDP estimates for the first and third quarters of 2012 have both been revised higher. The index of services dropped by 0.4% month-on-month, well below the unchanged reading expected by economists.
0843: The top share index is bouncing back modestly from yesterday´s falls, with shares
of Weir leading the pack after announcing that it achieved record profits and margins last year and saying that it expects another year of profitable growth in 2013. Vodafone is in second spot; Bloomberg reports that it has tabled its plans to bid for Kabel Deutschland after leaks of the move complicated discussions. Diageo goes ex-dividend today. As regards Italy, analysts at Credit Suisse are telling clients that "we have seen this movie before (...) Italy may not be as bad as it seems." They attach only a 10 per cent probability to the possibility of imminent new elections in the central Mediterranean country. Nevertheless, the Swiss broker points out that, "the probability of Spain asking for, and receiving OMT support in coming months have risen." The second estimate of fourth quarter gross domestic product is published at 09:30 (Consensus: -0.3% on quarter). The release will provide the first expenditure breakdown for the quarter. Bank of England deputy governor Charlie Bean is due to give a speech in London at 09:20. FTSE 100 up 30 to 6,300.