1630 Close: The FTSE 100 finished down 30.44 points to 6691.34 after the Bank of England and European Central Bank kept policy on hold after their meetings. ECB President Mario Draghi warned that high unemployment in the bloc would continue to weigh on recovery but the central bank remains ready to act. He also said the ECB expects inflation will remain low for a prolonged period before edging higher toward the target of close to but under two per cent. "The ECB was always likely to leave policy unchanged on Thursday, having cut interest rates only two months ago," Capital Economics said. "But President Draghi's repeated assertions at the press conference that the ECB stands ready to use all instruments allowed by its Treaty suggested that more policy action is on the way."
1435: Brokers had differing opinions on the likely consequences of Standard Chartered's reorganisation and resignation of its well regarded CFO. Analysts at Credit Suisse believe the news will create "further uncertainty on the stock and that our main concern in terms of a weak capital position, has not yet been addressed". Investec, on the other hand, believes StanChart enjoys "extreme capital strength", and that it would be "unfortunate" if bearish investors seize on this development to press the case for a capital raise. "We continue to regard the rationale for any such raise as unfounded."
1330: Initial weekly US unemployment claims dropped by 15,000 last week to the 330,000 mark (consensus: 320,000).
1245: The ECB has decided to maintain its main policy rate unchanged.
1202: The Bank of England announced at midday that it had decided to leave the key Bank Rate at 0.5% and its asset purchase programme at £375bn, as expected.
1105: Helping M&S' gains this morning - despite headline figures disappointment analysts - are comments from Investec. It has reduced its forecasts for M&S after the results, but has upgraded its rating from 'hold' to 'buy', saying that the business should now become cash generate with the current year being the last year of elevated capital expenditure. 'We believe the changing business model is not reflected in current valuation,' the broker said. The FTSE 100 is up 18.79 at 6,740.57.
1014: The FTSE 100 has pushed into positive territory with M&S now registering decent gains after its third-quarter update despite LFL forecasts missing analysts' estimates. Both Morrison and Tesco are still in the red after disappointing with their Christmas sales updates. Meanwhile, William Hill has been hit with a downgrade by Barclays and ARM Holdings is lower after a Deutsche Bank downgrade. The FTSE 100 is up 21.12 at 6,742.9.
0820: The FTSE 100 opened higher ahead of the Bank of England's (BoE) interest rate decision at midday. The central bank is expected to maintain its current policy, holding interest rates at 0.50% and asset purchases at £375bn. The BoE has vowed to keep interest rates at record lows at least until unemployment, currently at 7.4 per cent, falls to seven per cent. "One thing investors will be looking out for is a potential revision to the central banks forward guidance," said Craig Erlam, Market Analyst at Alpari. "Unemployment has fallen much faster than the central bank expected and now lies only 0.4 per cent above the threshold that they previously claimed would be the point when they start to consider an interest rate hike."