1630: Close The FTSE closed 20 points higher on Monday. The US economy created 236,000 jobs in February, well ahead of the 160,000 estimate, causing the jobless rate to unexpectedly fall to 7.7 per cent. In UK economic news, the Lloyds February consumer barometer survey showed little change in sentiment towards the labour market, inflation and interest rates compared to January, while elsewhere a new report predicted that Scotland is headed for another oil boom. Company wise, banks took a hit after the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards called for British banks to be forced to divide its routine retail operations from investment operations. The FTSE 100 closed up 20 points at 6,504.
1615: At one point in today´s session Sterling dropped below 1.49 versus the US currency unit. It may find some support at the so-called 61.8 per cent Fibonacci retracement of the move higher which started in 2009. However, analysts at Commerzbank expect losses longer-term to take the pair towards the 2010 low, at 1.4259/29.
1614: "We are a little bit nervous that equities have gone a little too far, too fast. Europe is still problematic and there has been no earnings improvement," Graham Secker, Morgan Stanley´s Head of pan-European equity strategy, tells the FT today.
1605: Technical analysts at Digital Look are looking to see if BP can close above the 452p level today, thus closing a bearish gap, which in turn might clear the way for the shares
to keep rising. FTSE 100 up 11 to 6,494.
1523: Investors are wary ahead of today´s vote on the government´s Banking reform bill. Whereas the government is asking for a cap of 33 times a lender´s capital to be set as the limit for a lender´s permissible amount of leverage the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards is asking for a cap of 25 times to be introduced. FTSE 100 up 7 to 6,491.
1433: UK stocks are now registering slight gains, despite the small losses now evident on Wall Street. Worth noting, Nomura today highlights BT as one of its ´top picks´ in the sector.
1117: The International Monetary Fund and the European Union are said to be willing to give Portugal an extra year to meet its public deficit reduction requirements, Reuters reports.
1035: The FTSE 100 has pared losses and is now trading flat at 6,483 in the aftermath of mixed economic data: markets continue to digest an Italian ratings downgrade and disappointing figures from China as well as Friday's forecast-beating jobs report from the US. Matt Basi, the Head of UK Sales Trading at CMC Markets, said in an e-mail: 'Ahead of Industrial Production data out of the UK tomorrow morning, bearish CMC Markets clients are positioning themselves for a correction in the FTSE 100 - a startling 93 per cent of clients with positions in the index are short. By comparison, clients trading the Dax show a 66 per cent short bias.'
0922: Citigroup has reduced its target price for Aviva from 479p to 432p. Meantime, analysts at Bank of America have downgraded their view on Sage to underperform.
0835: Shares of Ophir Energy are falling by no less than 13 per cent after hitting technical resistance in the form of their primary downtrend line.
0820: UK stocks have started the day slightly lower, led by losses in Sage, while shares of Ophir Energy are now cratering by 13 per cent on the FTSE 250. That follows weaker than expected Chinese and Japanese data out over the weekend, but gains on Wall Street on Friday. TUI and Prudential are amongst the best performers in the early going on the Footsie, possibly following positive coverage in the weekend newspapers. No major economic data releases are expected today in the UK. An article from ex-Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Andrew Sentance in today´s edition of City AM, against granting the MPC any further flexibility in its inflation remit, may draw some attention. FTSE 100 down 2 to 6,482.