1630: Close The FTSE ended the session marginally higher on the back of hopes a solution on the situation in Cyprus will be reached. In the US, Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Raskin said the central bank plans to keep interest rates low for a considerable time. Closer to home, BT Group was leading the risers after Nomura upgraded the stock to 'buy', raising its target price from 290p to 360p, while Burberry was dragged lower by sector peer Mulberry after the latter warned on profits this morning. The FTSE rose four points to close at 6,393, down 97 points on the week.
1504: Stocks have begun strongly on Wall Street with benchmarks making gains of around 0.5 per cent on average despite the ongoing political wrangling in Cyprus. Strong results from sportswear group Nike, jewellery maker Tiffany & Co and chip manufacturer Micron Tech have lifted the mood in the US. This side of the Pond, telecoms firm BT is on the up after Nomura raised its target price from 290p to 360p and kept its 'buy' rating for the stock. 'Regulatory rhetoric is turning positive for all of Europe's network owners, but the benefits should prove more tangible for fixed networks and highly significant for BT, in our view,' the broker said.
1225: The FTSE 100 is extending gains and is now up 19 points at 6,407 despite reports that lenders have rejected Cyprus' latest plan to avert a default. According to the Financial Times, the plan was dismissed over issues with some elements, such as nationalising the state pension fund issuing bonds based on future gas revenues.
0944: The FTSE 100 is range bound as markets trade in a cautious manner this morning, much as US equity futures. Nevertheless, it is doing much better than its Eurozone peers, which have taken a knock from the latest drop in Germany's IFO business confidence index, from 107.4 to 106.7 in March, missing the 107.6 estimate. Banks are among the worst performers on the FTSE 100 with RBS, Lloyds and HSBC in the red. The latter is under pressure despite having received an upgrade out of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, from 'underperform' to 'neutral'. The top-tier index is down two points at 6,386.
0828: A standout news story this morning has been about Mulberry, which issued a profit warning after weaker-than-expected post-Christmas trading. Shares are currently down 19 per cent after the high-end luxury designer said that both profits and revenues would miss forecasts for the year to March 31st, partly due to a fall in tourist spending (retail) in London. Meanwhile, wholesale revenues were down 15 per cent year-on-year. Elsewhere, HomeServe has dropped 14 per cent after saying that falling customer numbers over the next two years will lead to the loss of 300 jobs. The emergency home repairs firm did say however that it is on track to meet full-year forecasts. Oil giant BP is higher after saying it intends to carry out a share repurchase program with a total value of eight billion dollars.
0804: While the attention had diverted away from Cyprus temporarily over the last few days - owing to the Budget in the UK and the FOMC decision in the States - concerns returned with a vengeance on Friday morning, causing stocks to slip early on. It seems that talks with Russia to provide additional financial assistance have failed and that leaves Cyprus 'staring down the barrel of a default this morning', according to Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari. The ECB said yesterday that it would pull emergency liquidity assistance by Monday if it does not see a 'Plan B'. Germany's IFO business climate index is due out later on this morning. The FTSE 100 is down one point at 6,387.