1630: Close UK stocks finished in the red today as investors digested hawkish comments from Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen, together with the impact of yesterday's Budget and a fall in monthly mortgage lending. Yellen signalled that the first rate hike could come six months after QE ends. Meanwhile, total gross mortgage lending decreased by six per cent in February month-over-month to 15.2bn dollars. Elsewhere, the UK's total orders index for the three months to March rose to a balance of six points, from three in the month before, well above the historical average of -17. In company news, SSE was in the top spot after receiving a ratings upgrade from Morgan Stanley. The FTSE 100 closed down 30.69 points at 6,542.44.
1620: Shares of Gulf Keystone Petroleum are down sharply after resuming trading.
1507: President Obama has announced that sanctions have been applied on a bank which assists some key influential persons in Russia. Sanctions against specific sectors are being prepared, should Russia encroach on further Ukrainian territory in the east and south of the country.
1401: US existing home sales dropped by 0.4 per cent month-on-month in February, to reach an annualised rate of 4.6m, versus the 4.62m seen in the month before. The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 4.6m.
1400: The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's manufacturing sector gauge improved to a reading of nine points for March, up from -6.3 in the month before. The consensus estimate had been for a print of four.
1242: Initial unemployment claims rose by 5,000 to 320,000 in the week ended on March 15th, according to the US Department of Labour. The consensus estimate was for an increase to 330,000.
1207: "Growing tensions between the EU (and the US) and Russia over the crisis in Ukraine have raised fears about potential economic consequences, if the situation were to deteriorate further and extend to escalating sanctions and retaliation. For the moment, financial markets seem to be playing down the threat of knock-on effects," Morgan Stanley says in a note to clients today.
1100: The Confederation of British Industry's total orders index rose to a reading of 6 points for the month of March from 3 in the month before (consensus: 5).
1054: Footsie is continuing to trade lower following last night's surprise from Janet Yellen. Nonetheless, said remarks will probably have come as a relief to policy-makers at the ECB and Bank of England, as it relieves upward pressure on both the euro and sterling. Acting as a backdrop, market observers are continuing to discuss the likelihood, or not, of economic sanctions against Russia. FTSE 100 down 69 to 6,504.
0930: CML gross mortgage lending increased by 43.1 per cent year-on-year in February, to reach 15.2bn pounds. "While the Bank of England currently does not currently see excessive house price rises outside London [...] we believe the bank will take further action later this year to try and dampen the housing market. This could very well include the Bank of England recommending to the government that it dilutes the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme," Dr. Howard Archer, Chief UK+European Economist at IHS Global Insight says.
0829: The Swiss central bank has maintained its three-month LIBOR target rate unchanged at 0-0.25 per cent, as expected.
0823: Stocks have begun the session moving modestly lower after Fed Chair Janet Yellen "rattled" markets with the Fed's latest set of interest rate forecasts. Leading on the upside this morning are shares
of SSE, on the back of an upgrade out of Morgan Stanley, alongside Next, after it pleased investors with its latest set of full-year figures. Aviva and Legal&General are bouncing back slightly after yesterday's steep sell-off in their shares - in the aftermath of the latest Budget. Chinese authorities have announced that they will act to bolster economic growth. Some market commentary is indicating that full-blown economic sanctions against Russia are unlikely. FTSE 100 down 27 to 6,546.