1630:Close The FTSE 100 ended up 11.79 points to 6778.56 following the release of the Bank of England's meeting minutes and ahead of the US Federal Reserve's policy decision. Bank of England policymakers voted unanimously to hold interest rates this month, but expressed surprise that markets had underestimated the chance of a hike later this year. The Fed is forecast to announce a further tapering of quantitative easing when it wraps up its policy meeting after the London close. Analysts predict the central bank will cut another $10bn off its monthly bond purchase programme to take the total to $35bn.
1530: Iraq has urged the US to launch air strikes against rebel insurgents who have seized several cities. "We have a request from the Iraqi government for air power," confirmed top US military commander Gen Martin Dempsey.
The news came after jihadist militants launched an attack on Iraq's biggest oil refinery north of Baghdad.
1359: After an earlier fall, Shire's shares
have spiked higher (+1.8%) on rumours that Allergan could bid for the company in an effort to fend off a hostile takeover attempt by Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Bloomberg cited an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey who said that a bid is "imminent" and "makes strategic sense" for the US company.
1334: US stocks futures are trading flat as investors show caution ahead of the opening bell after three straight days of gains on Wall Street. In economic news Stateside, the current account deficit widened from a revised $87.3bn to $111.2bn in the first quarter, well above the forecast for a deficit of $97bn. This was the largest deficit since the third quarter of 2012.
1238: IG analyst Chris Beauchamp thinks the minutes from the Bank of England struck an "odd tone, neither entirely backing up Mark Carney nor completely distancing themselves from his Mansion House speech". "The bank might think the market has become too relaxed about a rate hike in 2014, but on the back of today's minutes most policymakers are still worried that growth is too weak," he said. "To raise rates only to cut them again would be the height of folly, even without considering the deleterious impact on the bank's reputation."
1130: Eurozone construction output rose by 0.8% in April following a 5.2% increase a month earlier, data showed this morning.
1020: Financial data company Markit said 60% of British households now expect the central bank to raise rates from a record low 0.5% before the end of the year, compared with 30% in May's report. The survey of 1,500 households was conducted from June 11th to June 16th, after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said interest rates could rise sooner than financial markets expected.
0938: Minutes from the BoE's MPC meeting held on June 4-5th showed that policymakers voted unanimously to keep the Bank Rate unchanged and the stock of asset purchases at £375bn. The minutes said: "For some members, the policy decision had become more balanced in the past couple of months than earlier in the year. In terms of the immediate policy decision, however, all members agreed that, in the absence of other inflationary pressures, it would be necessary to see more evidence of slack being absorbed before an increase in Bank Rate would be warranted."
0900: The FTSE 100 opened higher ahead of the release of the Bank of England's meeting minutes and the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision. The Bank of England's minutes will shed further light behind the central bank's decision to interest rates at 0.5% and asset purchases at £375bn at its June 4-5th meeting. The Fed is expected to announce a $10bn cut to its monthly bond purchase programme and to keep interest rates at 0.25% when their meeting ends today.