1630: Close The FTSE closed well above its opening level, boosted by data out from the US which included better-than-expected jobless data and producer price inflation. In the UK, it was reported that discussions are being held with the government of Qatar over potential spending opportunities. Company wise, Aggreko was the best performer of the day after winning contracts to supply122 MW of gas-fuelled power to utilities in Mozambique and Namibia, while the mining sector was broadly lower, weighed down by concerns over inflation in China after the country's central bank hinted that it was willing to tighten monetary policy in an effort to contain prices. The FTSE closed up 48 points at 6,529.
1519: Commodities trader Glencore is studying the acquisition of the ferro-alloy assets held by Russia's OAO Mechel, according to three people with knowledge of the deliberations, Bloomberg reports.
1416: The FTSE 100 has cemented gains after a strong start on Wall Street following the better-than-expected US jobless claims data, with US benchmarks sporting gains of 0.3-0.4 per cent on average. Meanwhile, the US producer-price index (PPI) rose 0.7 per cent month-on-month in February, in line with the consensus estimate, accelerating from a 0.2 per cent increase in January. The core PPI, which excludes food and energy, came in at 0.2 per cent on the month, above the 0.1 per cent expected. Also released today was the current-account deficit which unexpectedly narrowed in the fourth quarter to 110.4bn dollars, from 112.4bn dollars. The consensus forecast was for a small rise to 112.8bn dollars. The FTSE 100 is up 18 points at 6.499.
1230: Weekly initial US unemployment claims dropped by 10,000 to 332,000 in the week ending on March 9th, versus a consensus estimate of 350,000. Continuing claims retreated to 3.024m from 3.133m before.
1055: London's benchmark index is continuing to hover around the 6,500 level this morning as strong gains for Aggreko, Prudential and Morrison are partially offset by weakness in the heavyweight mining sector as metals prices fluctuate. In the States, stock futures are pointing to a positive start on Wall Street ahead of the jobless claims figures in the next few hours. A producer-price index will also be closely watched later on. The FTSE 100 is up 15 at 6,497. Ocado is now the high riser of the FTSE 350, having gained as much as 20 per cent earlier on, after its strong first-quarter trading update and potential deal with Morrison. Richard Curr, Head of Dealing at Prime Markets, said this morning that the Morrison deal could be a 'game changer' for Ocado.
1002: Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail may have impressed the market after raising its profit guidance for the second time this year, but Panmure Gordon has chosen to reiterate its 'sell' rating for the stock, telling investors not to get carried away. Shares have trimmed early gains but are still trading 11.21 per cent higher at 147.8p. The broker said that Argos's improvement in like-for-like sales was against an easy comparator and profits are a concern at Homebase. The broker said that the turnaround at Argos will 'take too long' and it will never be the 'digital leader' that it hopes to be. 'We also believe that many traditional retailers are making a virtue out of a necessity in that they have a lot of stores and so they are building bricks and mortar into an online model. Long term, we think that this will fail.'
0915: Shares in FTSE 250 Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail have rocketed over 14 per cent early on after the company hiked its profit guidance for the year ended March 2nd following a strong end to the year. The company now expects to report a full-year profit before tax of 90m pound, ahead of its already upwardly revised 83m-pound forecast in January. Also on the second-tier index, Ocado is on the up after its proposed deal with Morrison as well as reporting a 14.4 per cent rise in Q1 sales. Wholesale company Booker is also higher after the Competition Commission provisionally cleared its acquisition of cash-and-carry peer Makro.
0830: The FTSE 100 has started the day strongly, trading 23 points higher at 6,505, following moderate falls the day before. Supermarket giant Morrison is among the risers despite revealing its first annual profits decline in six years, as the market celebrated the company's announcement that it is working with Ocado to launch its first shopping website, tapping into the fast-growing online grocery market. Prudential is extending gains after its well-received 2012 results yesterday, while Aggreko has jumped after a cross-border power-supply contract in Southern Africa.