1630:Close UK stocks ended the day slightly higher, buoyed by remarks by Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country has no further designs on Ukrainian territory. Lessened risk aversion weighed on the likes of Randgold and Fresnillo. BAE Systems was the best performer on the top flight index after RBC moved to up its recommendation on the shares. Barclays was also higher, in line with the rest of its sector. Antofagasta ended lower despite offering investors thrice the dividend pay-out they were expecting. FTSE 100 up 37 to 6,605.
1436: Oriel Securities has downgraded Vodafone to 'reduce' from 'hold' given how in their opinion the company needs to continue purchasing fixed-line assets at very high multiples in order to defend its mobile business.
1432: Commenting on today's housing start data out Stateside Capital Economics had this to say: "a shortage of lots, kept housing starts subdued in February. But the size of the shortfall between starts and household formation means that construction won't stay this low for long." FTSE 100 up 57 to 6,624.
1259: Crimea and Russia have signed what they term as a binding agreement for Crimea to become a part of the Russian Federation, Interfax reports.
1230: US housing starts fell by 0.2 per cent month-on-month in February, to reach an annualised rate of 907,000, according to the US Department of Commerce. The consensus estimate had been for a rise to 910,000. The previous month's tally was revised to show an annualised rate of 909,000, up from a preliminary estimate of 880,000. FTSE 100 up 22 to 6,590.
1227: Stocks have raced into positive territory after Putin's comments with the FTSE 100 now trading 18 points higher at 6,586. Following the referendum, Putin called for a treaty to accept the accession, defying sanctions imposed by EU and US leaders yesterday who labelled the vote as illegal. He praised the Crimean voters, saying that the 'referendum is of a vital and historical importance', and stressed that the vote was fully in line with international law.
1142: Putin has said that Crimea should belong to a strong state, which has to be Russia, Bloomberg reports.
1011: Sainsbury, which was trading as much as 3.2 per cent higher early on, has now erased gains as investors continue to digest this morning's fourth-quarter update. Jefferies has retained its 'hold' rating on the stock, saying that its fourth-quarter trading update shows 'weakening trends' with a like-for-like sales decline of 3.1 per cent coming in 'slightly worse than feared'. The same broker also said that the stock's earnings-based valuation remains at the low-end of the group's history, but kept a cautious view given that 'forecast risk remains firmly to the downside.
1000: The ZEW Institute's economic sentiment index for Germany slipped to a reading of 46.6 for the month of March following the 55.7 points seen in February.
0941: The BoE has appointed Ben Broadbent as Deputy Governor for monetary policy and Nemat Shafik as Deputy Governor responsible for Markets and Banking. Anthony Habgood has been appointed as the Chairman of Court. The FTSE 100 is down 15.45 at 6,552.64.
0836: Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to speak at 11:00. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the approval of an accord on the accession of Crimea to the Russian Federation, Bloomberg TV reports.
0816: UK stocks have begun the morning modestly lower, led by drops in precious metals producers such as Fresnillo and Randgold. Vodafone has been placed on 'ratings watch negative' by Fitch following its acquisition of Spain's ONO. Shares of Next are being dragged lower by a 20 per cent fall in Asos, following a trading statement out from the latter. Antofagasta is at the top of the leaderboard following its latest full-year earnings. BAE Systems has been upgraded to outperform by analysts over at RBC. Speedy Hire is paying a steep price for having guided analysts lower on full-year profits. FTSE 100 down 22 to 6,546.