1630:CloseUK stocks ended the week in positive territory, with the FTSE closing up 32.24 points higher to 6624.98, as data showed a small improvement in the trade deficit and the pound fell well below its pre-crisis highs. The Office for National Statistics reported that the British trade deficit contracted to 9.05bn pounds in March from the previous month's 9.1bn pounds. The overall trade deficit, including the UK´s trade surplus in services, decreased to 3.1bn pounds. It is expected to continue to narrow due to the sterling scraping a 20-month low in March.
1515: US markets have opened higher, erasing some of Thursday's losses following a much anticipated speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in which he has said the US central bank is currently keeping a close watch on the possible issues that arise from low interest rates. The FTSE is up 23 points at 6,616.
1410: US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reportedly told CNBC that Japan has "growth issues" that needed to be dealt with but it needs to stay withing the bounds of the agreed 'ground rules' concerning competitive devaluations. "I'm just going to refer back to the 'ground rules' and the fact that we've made clear that we'll keep an eye on that," he remarked. FTSE 100 up 14 to 6,606.
1300: The single currency and Brent oil futures
are under selling pressure on the back of the renewed strength seen in the US dollar
overnight. The Euro
is now changing hands at 1.2984 versus the US unit, lower by 0.42%, while Brent crude oil
futures are off by 1.191 dollars, to the 103.22 dollar mark. Sterling is holding steady, up by barely 0.06 per cent at the moment to 0.8443 in its cross versus the single currency. FTSE 100 up 23 to 6,616
1147: After coming under intense pressure from the government Anglo American Platinum, a unit of Anglo American, announced that it will only cut 6,000 mining jobs in South Africa, less than half the 14,000 initially planned. Shares of Ocado are now the second biggest gainers on the FTSE 350 following on from an upgrade out of Goldman Sachs to buy from neutral. FTSE 100 up 41 to 6,634.
1007: The Italian Treasury has just sold 7bn euros of 12 month bills at a record low yield of 0.703 per cent, but ahead of the 0.60/0.65 per cent which had been mooted by some analysts ahead of the auction.
0930: UK visible trade deficit for the month of March has come in at 9.1bn pounds, slightly worse than the 9.0bn which economists had pencilled in. The total trade deficit - which includes trade in services - improved to -3.1bn pounds from -3.4bn pounds in the month before. FTSE 100 up 35 to 6,628.
0900: Shire is charging ahead after it won a patent trial against Watson Laboratories over Lialda, one of its treatments for ulcerative colitis.
0843: Markets like what BT had to say this morning. Yes, its 'top-line', or sales only beat consensus estimates mildly. However, its guidance for free cash flows (FCF) by 2015 - at 2.6bn pounds - has come in a whopping 7.5 per cent ahead of market estimates. More important even, the company may be on the cusp of a return to top-line growth, which means the above is not simply reliant on cost-cutting. That at least is what Bank of America-Merrill Lynch is telling clients this morning. Analysts at the global broker have raised their target on BT to 325p from 275p, while upgrading their recommendation to a buy. FTSE 100 up 25 to 6,618.
0835: The non-binding recommendations made by the Egyptian State Commissioner's Office to the Supreme Administrative Court, regarding conflicting claims over gold miner Centamin´s Sukari mine "were not positive," the company has announced. The first hearing of its appeal is expected to beheard on June 19th. Shares of the outfit have fallen quickly to the bottom of the pile on the FTSE 350 as a result, plummeting by 20.6% to 36.2p
0825: The FTSE has opened significantly higher than expected ahead of today's balance of trade figures, which will be released in just over an hour's time. One of the biggest risers is TUI Travel, which narrowed its half-year losses as revenues from unique holiday bookings and online sales grew. Heading the other way is IAG, after it widened first quarter losses, reflecting the costs of restructuring its Spanish carrier Iberia. In other news, the dollar surpassed the 100 Japanese yen mark - something that has not happened in four years. Bank of America has upped its target price on shares
of BT Group to 325p, with a 'buy' rating. The FTSE 100 is up 20 points at 6,612.