1630 Close: It was announced today that UK house prices retreated at a 0.2 per cent month-on-month pace during October and by another 0.4 per cent versus the same month a year ago, according to the latest data out from Hometrack. The latter was the smallest decline seen in two years. Looking abroad, US personal spending grew at a 0.8 per cent month-on-month rate in September (Consensus: 0.6 per cent), while incomes rose by 0.4 per cent month-on-month, as expected. In UK company news, analysts at Citi downgraded their view on shares
of Hargreaves Lansdown to sell from neutral, prompting shares to fall into the bottom spot on the FTSE. Meanwhile, Sage was leading the risers after the same broker upgraded the stock from neutral to buy. The FTSE ended the day 12 points lower at 5,795.
1522: ARM Holdings is moving higher following press reports that struggling US chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) will try to step out of the long shadow cast by arch-rival Intel on Monday as it announces plans for its first server chips made with the low-power designs of UK-based company. AMD is looking to tap into the strong growth being seen in the "cloud-computing" space. Land Securities and Hammerson are on the up following price target upgrades out of Deutsche Bank. At least four brokers (Numis, Westhouse Securities, Deutsche Bank and HSBC) have today cut their price targets on African Barrick Gold. FTSE 100 up 4 to 5,810.
1317: This is what analysts at Jefferies were commenting today on Pearson: "The Sunday Times this weekend reported that NewsCorp may enter the fray with a cash bid for Penguin in excess of one billion pounds and incorporate Penguin in the soon to be spun NewsCorp Publishing business, home of Harper Collins and News International et al. We like this option, the regulatory barriers are less material than the Random House merger option, the exit immediate and the consideration cash." Worth pointing out, other analysts, such as those at Panmure Gordon seem to be of a similar opinion, although Charles Stanley is taking a more constructive view on the company today, telling clients that: "Despite near term headwinds in some areas of the business, we forecast further solid growth in underlying earnings and dividends over the medium term. The valuation looks up with events for now, but we would continue to add to holdings on any weakness." Shares of Pearson are now trading unchanged.
1253: Media conglomerate Pearson is slightly softer after confirming publishing firm Random House is to merge with Pearson's Penguin book division. Under the terms of the agreement, Penguin and Random House will combine their businesses in a newly-created joint venture named Penguin Random House. The announcement came as Pearson confirmed it is on track to hit full year estimates. FTSE 100 is down 24 at 5,783.
1247: Shares of fixed line telecommunications group BT are down on speculation that the group will lower its full year sales forecasts next Thursday, when it releases its latest quarterly results. Premier Foods is moving up sharply on a report in today´s Telegraph that the company has offered itself up for sale -for 1.2bn pounds- to unidentified private equity groups.
1230: US personal spending grew at a 0.8 per cent month-on-month rate in September (Consensus: 0.6 per cent), while incomes rose by 0.4 per cent month-on-month, as expected.
1030: Footsie sees the 5800 level fade further into the distance as mining stocks join financial stocks in the doghouse. With New York facing the worst storm in its history, insurers are bracing themselves for a torrent of insurance claims. Accountancy software firm Sage is wanted after Citi upped its recommendation on the shares to 'buy' and raised its target price from 294p to 345p.
0930: M4 money suply expanded at a 0.4 per cent month-on-month pace in September, just released ONS figures show, while mortgage approvals rose to now stand at 50,000 (Consensus: 48,500). Over on the other side of the channel traders are focusing on Berlusconi´s threat to pull the plug on Mario Monti, by withdrawing his party´s support for his technocratic cabinet. There also appears to be quite an amount of speculation over a possible bail-out request by Spain, perhaps as soon as this week even.
0926: Stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown is leading London lower after Citigroup turned bearish on the stock. Mobile phone networks giant Vodafone is defying the trend and heading higher, despite press reports that the company will be less generous with its dividend payments from next year. FTSE 100 is down 24 at 5,783.
0819: As Hurricane Sandy forces the closure of the New York Stock Exchange today, London's financial stocks are facing serious headwinds of their own this morning. Insurers Prudential, Old Mutual, Aviva, Legal & General and Admiral are all lower, while ahead of the banking results season Lloyds, RBS and Barclays are also blown backwards. FTSE 100 is down 19 at 5,788.