1630: Close The FTSE 100 finished up 48.84 points to 6865.21, boosted by a better-than-expected US jobs report. US non-farm payrolls increased 288,000 in June, compared to 224,000 jobs a month earlier, beating the consensus of 215,000. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank decided to keep interest rates and the deposit rate unchanged, as expected. Topping the FTSE was Sports Direct after shareholders yesterday narrowly voted through a bonus scheme that will see founder Mike Ashley receive £200m in shares.
1507: Analysts at Barclays said that the non-farm payrolls are unlikely to prompt the Fed to adjust the rate of tapering. However, given that the Fed's year-end forecast for the jobless rate was 6.0-6.1%, "there is a risk that the FOMC will raise rates before our expected first hike in June 2015" if unemployment continues to fall faster than it predicts. They said this could be the case especially if core inflation moves about the Fed's 2% target early next year "as we expect".
1435: Early after the opening bell, the Dow Jones surged past the psychologically important 17,000 mark for the first time ever. US equities were buoyed by a stronger-than-expected employment report and news that the jobless rate unexpectedly declined to its lowest point since September 2008.
1355: Highlights from Draghi's press conference so far: the ECB is "watching exchange rate
developments"; inflation will stay low and pick up gradually in 2015 and 2016; from 2015 the ECB will meet every six weeks and will not sync its meetings with anybody else, such as the Fed; the ECB will release minutes of the meetings from 2015.
1330: US non-farm payrolls have smashed estimates, rising 288,000 in June, up from a revised 224,000 the month before (initial estimate: 217,000). The consensus forecast was for a reading of 215,000. The jobless rate unexpectedly declined from 6.3% to 6.1%.
1313: Jennifer McKeown, Senior European Economist at Capital Economics, said that the ECB "could hint at bolder unconventional policies ahead in the press conference". However, she said that Draghi is unlikely to unveil any new policies today.
1304: There has been very little market reaction to the ECB decision over the past 15 minutes or so with the FTSE 100 holding on to gains, up 0.5% at 6,850. However, the focus now turns to the press conference with ECB President Mario Draghi at 13:30. US non-farm payrolls, jobless claims and the trade balance are also due out at the same time. "Each of these has the potential to move the markets and as a result I expect to see a huge boost in volatility today," said Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari UK.
1245: The European Central Bank (ECB) has decided to keep its policy unchanged, as expected. The ECB kept interest rates at a record low of 0.15% after cutting it last month to address weak inflation and a stagnant recovery. The monetary authority also maintained the deposit rate at -0.10% after taking it into negative territory for the first time in the history of any major central bank at its last meeting.
1120: The FTSE 100 is now up 31.77 points (+0.47%) at 6,848.14 as markets gain momentum ahead of the ECB meeting and non-farm payrolls. "The break above 6,800 is one of the most positive signs we have witnessed for the FTSE 100 in a number of days," said Chris Beauchamp from IG. "Of course, the closer we get to 6,880 the more nervousness will increase, but the turnaround in bullish sentiment in recent days means we might, finally, see a break of this level and then on to 6,900."
1037: Copper miner Antofagasta is extending gains (+4%) on reports that the company is to cut jobs and costs as it combines its El Tesoro and Esperanza mines under a new company. A director from the board said in an interview with Bloomberg yesterday that the mines, located in the Centinela region of Chile, will come under one management from next week.
09:35 UK Markit Services PMI was 57.7 in June, against 58.6 in May and expectations of 58.3.
0845: UK stocks have begun the session with slight gains led by shares
of Antofagasta and Petrofac, despite a mixed close overnight on Wall Street. Balfour Beatty is leading fallers on the FTSE 250 on the heels of its trading update out this morning. The economic calendar is quite heavy today with US non-farm payrolls being scheduled for release this afternoon and ahead of the ECB's monetary policy meeting. Sweden's Riskbank has surprised markets with a 50 basis point reduction to its main policy rate this morning, instead of the 25 basis points anticipated by markets. FTSE 100 up 13 to 6,830.