1230: Close The FTSE 100 finished 17.82 points higher at 6,749.09 as stocks recovered after yesterday's falls in a shortened session. It was a decent end to 2013 for the benchmark index, extending the annual gain to 14.4 per cent - the biggest yearly rise since 2009. Nevertheless, it was a pretty quiet finished to 2013 for financial markets, as Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari explains: 'It's not unusual for trading volumes to take a hit at this time of year, as traders spend time with their families instead of in front of their desk. There's also a severe lack of catalysts for the markets, with the economic calendar offering us very little and the start of corporate earnings season just under a couple of weeks away.'
1217: With just under a quarter of an hour to go before trading ends, the FTSE 100 has held on to gains and is set to finish 2013 on a strong note, having risen by nearly five per cent in the last two and a half weeks alone. Despite the weakness being seen in the retail sector, markets are being buoyed by strength in the housing and real estate category with Persimmon, Hammerson, Land Secs and British Land performing well. The FTSE 100 is up 18.57 points at 6,749.84.
1139: Here is what Dr. Howard Archer over at IHS Global Insight has to say on this morning's UK house price data out from the Land Registry: "Indeed, there is a very real risk that house prices could really take off over the coming months, especially if already significantly improving housing market activity and rising buyer interest is lifted appreciably further by the "Help to Buy" mortgage guarantee scheme which was launched in October."
1100: Debenhams has plummeted after a gloomy trading update in which the company said that margins have fallen over the Christmas period due to product mix and higher markdowns. 'We did not experience the anticipated final surge in sales in the last week of the period and as a result we expect the need for additional markdowns to clear stock in January and February,' the firm said. Debenhams now expects to make a pre-tax profit of 85m pounds during the first half, down 26 per cent year-on-year and well below current forecasts. The stock is currently down nearly 14 per cent at 71.65p. Other retailers including Sainsbury, M&S, Next and Halfords are also trading in the red. The FTSE 100 is up 18.07 at 6,749.34.
0950: Vedanta Resources is out of favour in morning trade after saying that it has extended the employment contract of its Chief Executive Mahendra Singh Mehta by a further three months to give the board more time to find his successor. Other miners, including precious metals peers Randgold, Centamin and African Barrick Gold, are also down as gold and silver prices decline. The FTSE 100 is up 22.11 at 6,753.38.
0802: It's set to be a quiet day for financial markets worldwide as traders head off early to their New Year's Eve celebrations. A number of European markets are open for just half a day (including the UK) while Germany's DAX is closed all day. "Trading volumes have already been extremely low over the last week or so, which is not unusual around this time of year. However, with many exchanges closing early and others not opening at all, they should be even lower today," said Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari. The FTSE 100, which closes 12:30, is currently trading 8.68 points higher at 6,739.95.