1630: Close The FTSE 100 closed higher, driven by Morrison on the back of dividend hopes, as well as miners, which climbed following the introduction of an export ban in Indonesia. In macro news, world powers announced that an interim agreement to limit Iran's nuclear programme will come into effect on January 20th. Tomorrow will see the release of UK inflation and US retail sale figures. The FTSE 100 closed up 17.21 points at 6,757.15.
1613: In the aftermath of last Friday's US employment report the dollar/yen is falling by 0.61 per cent to the 103.31 yen mark, having touched an intra-day low at 102.99. Strength in the Japanese currency is often seen as a sign of risk aversion by market watchers. That comes as some Goldman Sachs strategists, such as David Kostin, are reportedly warning of the need to see an acceleration in US corporate earnings growth in order for the S&P 500
advancing. Cable is also lower on the day and now off by 0.66 per cent to the 1.6386 mark. Over the year-end it managed to move above 1.65, a level seen by some as the lower bound of the MPC's tolerance zone [between 1.65 and 1.70] for strength in Sterling. FTSE 100 up 13 to 6,753.
1532: On the subject of whether US stocks are currently overvalued, the latest edition of FT Money cites Ewen Cameron Watt, the head of the Blackrock research institute, to the effect that they are perhaps less so that it might appear. That is because companies last year issued a lot of investment-grade and high-yield debt which was used to retire equity, thus compensating for the low growth rate in corporate earnings. FTSE 100 up 25 to 6,765.
1500: World powers have announced that an interim agreement to limit Iran's nuclear programme will come into effect on January 20th.
1322: Shares of IGas are rocketing by 14 per cent after French petrochemicals major Total agreed to 'farm-in' to the firm's licenses in the UK Midlands held by its joint venture with US outfit eCorp and Egdon Resources. FTSE 100 up 10 to 6,749.
1321: Afraid of a capital call at Standard Chartered? Not broker Investec. Its analysts believe 2014 will morph into a revival year at the lender, with 33 per cent growth in earnings per share, "led by a sharp re-acceleration in wholesale banking revenues and a lower tax rate, with curtailed margin and own account headwinds." Hence, they have decided to reaffirm their 1,700p price target and buy recommendation on the stock.
1057: There is quite a bit of market chatter today regarding Morrison's upcoming results of its balance sheet review, due in March. Nevertheless, analysts at Shore Capital had this to say: "Whilst there can be short-term gains for shareholders from a comprehensive property sale programme through distributions, we question whether such activity is in the interest of the company in the long-run." There have also apparently been reports out over the weekend of "US activist-value-vulture investors" encircling the asset rich superstore group. FTSE 100 down 2 to 6,738.
1055: Barclays and RBS continue to move up the leaderboard on news that the Basel committee on bank supervision yesterday eased its proposals for banks' capital requirements.
1054: Shares of easyJet have reportedly been upgraded to outperform (from neutral) by analysts at Credit Suisse. The Swiss broker has lifted its price target on the shares
to 1,980p from 1,518p before.
1009: Some market commentary is referencing the start, later today Stateside, of the Detroit Auto Show.
0917: Acting as a backdrop, over the weekend an investor round-table organised by FT Money revealed that several of the experts taking part see European equities as one of the more attractive investment opportunities this year. Jim O'Neill, ex-President at Goldman Asset Management, specifically cited the Greek, Spanish and Portuguese markets as possibly some of the most interesting to look at. The possible need for the ECB to act further to curtail deflation risks was one of the other main common denominators of the discussions.
0845: UK stocks have begun the session moving slightly higher, led by a continuing bounce in shares of Morrison. In second place on the Footsie we find oil engineering group Amec, which has agreed a 1.9bn pound deal to take over rival Foster Wheeler. SSE has been downgraded to neutral versus outperform at broker Exane. Acting as a backdrop, last week Barclays Research revised its growth estimate for the UK in 2014 to 3.1 per cent (from 2.3 per cent before). Of interest, over the weekend its peers at Citi were cited as saying that growth could reach a 4 per cent pace in at least one quarter this year. Also, the FT's economics editor now sees the MPC raising its main policy rate starting in the fourth quarter. FTSE 100 up 13 to 6,752.