1630: Close Stocks reversed this morning's slight decline to end the session firmly higher, buoyed by a strong performance from the banking sector after January UK inflation came in in below the government's target level. Both RBS and Barclays registered strong gains after the key consumer price index measure came in at 1.9 per cent. The ONS released data showing the average price of a home in the UK reached 250,000 pounds in 2013 and that factory gate prices increased by 0.3 per cent during January. Over in the US, home builder sentiment index dropped to a reading of 46 in the month of February, after a reading of 56 in the month before (consensus: 56). Over in the Eurozone, consumer confidence for both Germany and the region as a whole came in below expectations. The FTSE 100 closed up 60.43 points at 6,796.43.
1500: The NAHB's US home builder sentiment gauge dropped sharply in February, to hit 46 points after a reading of 56 in the month before. Weather seems to have played a clear role.
1414: UK house prices rose by 1 per cent over the month in January, according to the Land Registry.
1257: Analysts at Investec are highlighting to clients oil services outfit Wood Group's unchanged 2014 guidance. Following on the heels of two profit warnings that is "important", they said.
1243: "2014 has the potential to be a year of transformation for bwin.party. We believe this will come either: i) from payback on investment in product and marketing coupled with growth in US revenue; or, ii) from a restructuring which releases value from the component parts. Today's news that an activist fund plans to take a stake seems to make the latter more likely," writes Numis.
1223: Yields on 10 year Gilts are now lower by three basis points to 2.75 per cent. Shares of Barclays and RBS are now at the top of the leaderboard.
1159: Markets may be disappointed by the lack of any further news at InterContinentalHotels about a further return of cash to shareholders, "but we see scope for a further significant return", write analysts at Numis. Uncertainty persists around China, the broker added.
1158: UBS warns that Centrica will now get hit from both sides of the political spectrum and downgrades to 'sell'.
1112: Following today's data showing a broadening out of home price growth by geographical regions Dr.Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight believes that later in the year the Bank of England will recommend to the government 'diluting' its 'Help to Buy' scheme.
1030: The British Retail Consortium has published new plans to reform the UK business rates system based on new measures, saying the current system is 'woefully out of date'. The retailing body said it was considering shifting the basis for taxing property on alternative measures such as energy usage and job creation. It also suggested offering a discount on rates based on a percentage of corporation tax payment, which would be capped at overall proportion of company rates bill. The FTSE is flat at 6,735.63.
1010: "There is a good chance that CPI inflation will fall to as low as 1 per cent by the end of this year and remain subdued thereafter. This should enable real earnings to rise for the first year since 2007 and allow the MPC to keep interest rates on hold until well into next year," writes Capital Economics.
1000: The ZEW Institute's gauge of economic confidence in Germany slipped to 55.7 in February from 61.7 in the month before (consensus: 61.5).
0930: The Consumer Price Index (CPI) advanced at a 1.9 per cent year-on-year clip in January, according to the latest data available from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The consensus estimate had been for a rise of 2 per cent, the same as last month. It marked the first time that CPI had been below the Bank of England's target since November of 2009.
0839: The Footsie has begun the day off by a tad following the announcement that the People's Bank of China had acted to remove liquidity from the interbank market, through the use of reverse repos, for the first time in eight months. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 surged three per cent after the Bank of Japan boosted its lending programs. Centrica is leading fallers after its shares
were added to UBS' 'least preferred utilities' list. Precious metals miners are also moving lower, alongside InterContinental Hotels Group after its latest yearly results. CPI data is due out at 09:30. FTSE 100 down 11 to 6,725.