1630: Close Blue chips managed to end the week on a positive note, lifted by supermarkets which rose after Asda said it had managed to lower the number of customers jumping ship to discount stores. Asda said fewer shoppers were opting for chains such as Lidl and Aldi, welcome news for the so-called 'big four' which have been battling to maintain their share of the market in recent months. Over in the Eurozone, the trade surplus narrowed in March compared to a year earlier, but rose against the prior month, while in the States consumer confidence registered a fall, declining to 81.8 in May, compared to consensus expectations of 84.5. Overall, however, gains were limited, with the FTSE 100 closing up 14.92 points at 6,855.81.
1553: TUI Travel shares
were pushed lower by the warning from the Foreign Office about Kenya, from where British tourists are being evacuated. The organisation issued a statement which read: 'There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. The main threat comes from extremists linked to al-Shabaab, a militant group that has carried out attacks in Kenya in response to Kenya's military intervention in Somalia.' The group, which owns Thomson and First Choice, made the decision to repatriate all of its customers and has cancelled all flights until at least October.
1505: US stocks have opened in a mixed fashion, with the Dow Jones creeping higher, while the Nasdaq and S&P 500
inch lower. Back on this side of the pond, the FTSE is just one or two points in the red as we close in on the week's end. Morrison continues to lead the upside, driven by market chatter around a potential bid for the group by a US-led private equity consortium. According to the Daily Mail's market report, such a bid could total around 6.4bn pounds in cash.
1339: Energy group E.On is set to pay a 12m pound penalty after an investigation by Ofgem found it had conducted 'extensive poor sales practices'. The industry regulator said its door-to-door and telephone sales staff had misled customers and in some cases had sold tariffs that were more expensive than the ones they were already on with a different company. In addition to the penalty, the group is also expected to incur a compensation bill of between 3-8m pounds. The FTSE 100 fell 6.69 to 6,834.20.
1331: Three month copper futures are lower by 0.6 per cent at 6,876.5 dollars/metric tonne.
1330: Housing starts rose to reach 1.072m in April, up from 947,000 in the month before (consensus: 980,000). Permits jumped by 8 per cent to reach an annualised rate of 1.08m in April, from 1m in the month before, well ahead of the consensus estimate of 1.01m.
1228: India's Sonia Ghandi concedes election victory to Modi's BJP Alliance.
1102: "In addition to more defaults on bank loans, Chinese companies are also facing delays in trade credit. The median collection time for receivables increased to 90.4 days at the end of last year from 71.4 days in 2009 - that's close to the current average for Italy and Spain (90-100 days). We continue to be concerned about the stress in the Chinese financial market, which has already caused spreads on major banks to widen around 50-100bp since the end of last year. We remain short Australia to hedge the rising China risk," RBS continues.
1101: In a note issued on Friday morning analysts at RBS tell clients that yesterday's selling in Eurozone periphery and Greek assets was due to US hedge funds taking profits on the back of weak economic data and the risks surrounding the upcoming Greek elections. However, going forwards the broker highlights other risks, such as that the Fed has to start talking about the timing of rate hikes towards the second half of the year and the vulnerabilities evident in China's financial system. FTSE 100 down 16 to 6,825.
0845: Stocks have begun the day more or less steady after the selling witnessed worldwide on Thursday in the wake of weak data on economic growth in the Eurozone and US housing. Wall Street also finished lower, although the major stock-market benchmarks did manage to finish off their lows of the session. Morrison and Sainsbury are pacing the gains early on. In retail sector news, John Lewis reported a 15.6 per cent increase in year-on-year sales over the latest week. Intertek is at the bottom of the pile after revealing that first quarter sales declined by 4.9% as the company took a hit from moves in the currency market. Data on US housing starts and building permits are due out in the afternoon. FTSE 100 up 1 to 6,842.