1630: Close It was a flat finish for the top tier index on Wednesday as investors balanced mixed US data, increased prospects of monetary easing in Europe and China, news out from Lloyds and the recovery of the insurance sector. Orders for durable goods jumped by 2.2 per cent in February to a seasonally adjusted 229.4bn dollar, but this was mainly as a result of large increases in the volatile transportation sector. Standard Life rose on its acquisition of Phoenex's Ignis Asset Management division, while news the government had sold part of its stake in Lloyds helped push the banking sector firmly into the red. The FTSE 100 finished up 0.41 points at 6,605.30, a gain of 48.13 on the week so far.
1627: Gold futures for June delivery are off by 0.56 per cent to the 1,304 dollar
per unce level on COMEX trading down towards ist 200-day moving average. Its crunch time for Goldman´s well-known bearish stance on the yellow metal´.
1545: US President Obama will deliver a speech in Brussels at 16:45. He is expected to touch upon the crisis in Ukraine. Shares in Candy Crush developer King Digital are down by 9 per cent on their first day of trading, in what is often taken as an extremely poor omen for a stock´s outloook, comment analysts at Sharecast. FTSE 100 up 4 to 6,609.
1544: RSA is holding near the top of the leaderboard, part of the buying interest may be attributable to reports which have surfaced that it is looking for a buyer for its Lithuanian unit. Speculation puts the price tag at 100m euros.
1255: Three month copper futures are off by 0.8 per cent to 6,550.5 dollars per metric tonne.
1230: Orders of durable goods in the US grew by 2.2 per cent during February, well ahead of the 1.0 per cent rise expected. Nevertheless, so-called 'core' orders of durable goods contracted at a 1.3 per cent clip.
1103: With Lloyds still registering heavy losses, state-backed counterpart is also in the red (down 0.9 per cent) after Numis lowered its rating on the stock from 'add' to 'hold' and slashed its target price from 374p to 300p. The broker said that the stock's valuation "looks stretched" and that its turnaround will be "long-dated".
1047: Standard Life and Phoenix Group after the two best performers on the FTSE 350, both trading over five per cent higher, after agreeing on a deal to sell the latter's Ignis Asset Management division for 390m pounds. Standard Life said that acquisition will enhance earnings from the first full year of ownership, while Phoenix estimates that the disposal will help to reduce gearing levels. Oriel Securities kept an 'add' rating on Phoenix today, saying that the sale will "potentially lift dividend caps and enable higher dividends in the future". The FTSE 100 is up 32.95 at 6,637.84.
1018: Lloyds is now trading down four per cent after the UK Financial Investments confirmed this morning that it had reduced the Treasury's shareholding in the bank to about 24.9 per cent from 32.7p per cent. It said in a statement that the disposal was made at a price of 75.5p per share, compared with last night's closing price of 79.11p.
0845: Stocks have begun the day slightly in the blue, buoyed by overnight gains on Wall Street. Lloyds is leading on the downside after the government announced its decision to further reduce its stake, while BskyB has gone ex-dividend. Legal & General has won a 3bn pound bulk annuity arrangement with the ICI Pension Fund covering 3bn pounds of its liabilities, the largest ever bulk annuity policy arranged by a pension scheme in the UK. FTSE 100 up 12 to 6,617.