1630:Close The Footsie ended Thursday's session marginally higher, led by mining stocks which rose on the back of rising metal prices and following a vote by the BoE's Monetary Policy Committee to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.5 per cent. Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce tanked after saying that it is to report to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) after matters of bribery and corruption involving so-called 'intermediaries' were discovered in Indonesia and China. In economic news, UK new car registrations rose 11.3 per cent in November, which proved to be another weak month for UK trade as imports easily outstripped exports. The FTSE closed up nine points at 5,901.
1551: BAE Systems is performing well today. Lockheed Martin is close to winning Pentagon backing to build all 29 F-35 fighters planned for the coming fiscal year after three years of cutbacks in orders for the nation's costliest weapon, US officials told Bloomberg. The British firm is one of the leading contractors in the consortium responsible for the manufacture of the Royal Navy's next generation carrier based interceptor. The stock faces significant technical resistance towards 340p and is overbought.
1531: On the fundamental side of things, this is what analysts at Credit Suisse were saying today on Tesco - whose share price they cut to 335p from 350p beforehand - : "By the time of the fiscal year results in April 2013, we hope for greater clarity above and beyond the six-part plan, which we regard as more operational than strategic. We expect that strategy to prioritise sustainable growth above, although not instead of, debt reduction and more cash distribution. If these longer-term goals become clearer, investors will then be more able to
assess likely growth, earnings and returns prospects. In our view, only then will the low-rated shares
(just 9.7 times estimated 2013/14 price-to-earnings) potentially re-rate." FTSE 100 up 13 to 5,905.
1530: Shares of food retailer Tesco yesterday broke the downwards trend line which had been in place since last February, on higher than usual trading volumes, analysts at Charles Stanley are pointing out. On the downside of things, the shares are now overbought. Nevertheless, should they be able to overcome resistance towards the 350p area then they could make some further headway. The catalyst? The rise is being tied to the possible disposal of its constantly loss-generating US unit. FTSE 100 up 12 to 5,904.
1433: The European Commission has confirmed EU merger regulation clearance for the recommended all-share merger of equals between Glencore and Xstrata in Phase I with the commitments referred to therein. FTSE 100 up 16 to 5,910.
1330: Initial weekly US unemployment claims have fallen 25,000 to 370,000 (Consensus: 380,000).
1305: At least two brokers, Panmure and Merchant Securities, have tweaked their price targets for Sage higher. On the other other hand, Merchant Securities and Jefferies coincide in their view that there is little to get excited about in the company's latest set of results. For its part, Panmure Gordon (despite the above) had this to say: "Our grudge is unchanged; Sage struggles with 'growth'. A faltering economic backdrop, coupled with a very wide product array means that 'growth' should continue to elude it - and the miss of note was to revenue expectations (ours and consensus). In addition, the current valuation is out of kilter with the operational reality (shares trading on 15.0 times price-to-earnings). These results better reflect a valuation in the range of 11-12 times price-to-earnings)." Sage seems to be losing a level of technical support. Hargreaves Lansdown after Morgan Stanley lowered its view on the broker to Equalweight. FTSE 100 up 19 to 5,911.
1251: Shares of electronics components supplier Premier Farnell are now leading gains on the FTSE 350 despite the company announcing a fall in third quarter profits and sales. Some analysts, such as Panmure Gordon, have also issued negative notes on the company following those results. Imagination is in second place after JP Morgan reaffirmed its rating on the stock. FTSE 100 up 20 to 5,912.
1245: The European Central Bank (ECB) has kept its main interest rate unchanged at 0.75 per cent, in line with consensus forecasts.
1217: The Bank of England has maintained its main policy rate unchanged at 0.5 per cent and the size of its asset purchase programme at 375bn pounds. FTSE 100 up 17 to 5,909.
0930: UK visible trade deficit for the month of October has come in at 9.54bn pounds, versus a negative balance of 8.4bn pounds last month (Consensus: -8.bn pounds).
0840: UK stocks have begun the day slightly higher, tracking the relatively positive finish seen on Wall Street last night. Interestingly, perhaps, benchmarks on both sides of the pond are now bumping up against technical resistance levels. Antofagasta and Anglo American are in the lead early on. The rise in Intertek is being attributed by some to mergers and acquisitions related speculation. UK house prices rose by 1 per cent in November, according to the latest data out this morning from Halifax. ONS will release international trade data at 09:28. There is some more market chatter out and about regarding the possibility of the United Kingdom possibly losing its AAA long-term debt rating. FTSE 100 up 15 to 5,908.