1630: Close UK stocks registered a decent gain today as investors took advantage of the bargains to be had following last week's declines and grew in confidence as geopolitical tensions eased somewhat. A 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza, the end of Russian military exercises near eastern Ukraine and the news that US air strikes have aided Kurdish forces in northern Iraq have have together helped to rebuild confidence over the weekend. After making a fairly steady climb throughout the day, the FTSE 100 ultimately closed 65.46 points higher at 6,632.82.
1615: NATO's Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told Reuters in an interview there is a "high probability" of a Russian military intervention in Ukraine.
1520: A spokesman for the Shi-ite coalition in Iraq has said that the country's President Fuad Masum has asked the coalition's nominee for prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, to form a government. The news will come as a blow to current PM Nuri al Malifi who has refused to drop his bid for a third term.
1345: The FTSE 100 is up 54.74 at 6,622.10 ahead of the opening bell in the States with US stock futures rising strongly - Dow futures are up 0.6%. Investors are focusing on remarks from Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer, whose gloomy comments on the economy suggested that monetary stimulus may still be needed to bolster the recovery.
1204: According to Oriel Securities, the time of the 'challenger' banks in the UK "has arrived". The broker said: "Free from legacy conduct and systems issues faced by the incumbents, the 'challengers' offer cleaner, simpler and more dynamic investment cases." Their growth potential should be of interest to equity-market investors, Oriel added, as more 'challengers' seek to access the public markets.
1005: Analysts at Canaccord Genuity have nudged their price target for shares
of Rio Tinto to 4,165p from 4,145p previously, as a result of the reduced near-term capital expenditures they now expect. The broker also highlights how the miner's board was "particular" about employing the word "material" when describing "the likely extra cash return to investors". FTSE 100 up 41 to 6,608.
0935: Mortgage approvals for home purchase increased by 5.4% month-on-month in June, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
0930: Lloyds employment confidence index rose to a reading of 6 for July from 1 in the month before.
0845: UK stocks have begun the session moving higher, led by gains in shares of Smith&Nephew and Ashtead. Equity traders are thus tracking gains on Wall Street last Friday on the heels of reports that Russia might be looking to de-escalate recent tensions with Ukraine. Quite a few market participants however remain wary. In that regard, it must be remembered that some equity benchmarks on the continent had accumulated losses of approximately 10%, the maximum limit of what is often considered to be a 'correction'. Hence, the possibility exists that we are simply witnessing a technical bounce, some market observers are saying. FTSE 100 up 36 to 6,604.