1630: Close The FTSE plunged 1.62 per cent on Thursday, as uncertainty around the US Federal Reserve dampened risk appetite and spooked markets into a sell-off. Leading the fallers were the miners, which tracked the price of gold lower once again. Meanwhile, UK defence giant BAE Systems may have posted a fall in sales and earnings in 2012, but shares
gained strongly after the company initiated a share buy-back worth 1.0bn pounds over the next three years. In economic news, the UK public sector's net borrowing requirement - excluding financial sector interventions - was -11.4bn pounds (a repayment) in January, the ONS revealed. The FTSE closed down 104 points at 6,292.
1500: US existing home sales rose at an annualised rate of 4.92m in January (Consensus: 4.90m). The previous month's tally however has been revised down by 40,000. The US Federal Reserve bank of Philadelphia's manufacturing gauge for the month of February has come in at -12.5 following a reading of -5.8 for the previous month (Consensus: 1.0).
1419: Shares in easyJet are lower after the budget airline's AGM, at which some 44.7 per cent of voting shareholders voted against the directors' remuneration report for last year. However, with 55.29 per cent of the votes for the pay packet, the resolution passed. Interestingly, it is thought that the majority of votes against came from the group's founder and 25.94 per cent shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou. 44.38 per cent of voting investors also voted against the resolution to re-elect Chairman Sir Michael Rake as a director of the company.
1330: Initial weekly US jobless claims rose by 20,000 last week to 362,000 (Consensus: 355,000). The core rate for consumer prices rose by 0.3 per cent month-on-month in January (Consensus: 0.2 per cent). Existing home sales data and Philly Fed survey are still ahead, at 15:00. FTSE 100 down 105 to 6,290.
1115: Sainsbury says no horse meat has been found in any of its products. FTSE 100 down 100 to 5,296.
1100: The CBI's total orders gauge for industry fell to a level of -14 in February, from -20 in the month before (Consensus: -15).
0947: The Spanish Treasury has auctioned 4.2bn euros in medium and long-term debt, above the 4.0bn targeted.
0930: The UK's public sector net borrowing requirement has come in at -9.9bn pounds for January (Consensus: -9.5bn pounds). Commenting on the data economists at Barclays Research are pointing out that: "Although borrowing on the month surprised positively there is little evidence of an improving trend. By our estimation, the government remains broadly on track to meet its borrowing forecast for the current fiscal year."
0912: The Footsie is now trading down 86 points (-1.35 per cent) at 6,309 as markets continue to digest the minutes of the FOMC meeting. With the dollar
strengthening, miners are among the worst performers in London as metals prices weaken. Gold is now trading at a seven-month low. ENRC, BHP Billiton, EVRAZ, Rio Tinto and Xstrata are suffering heavy falls. CRH, the building materials group, is also under the weather after Fed members questioned current QE measures. CRH is highly exposed to the US economy with just under 50 per cent of its first-half sales coming from the Americas region.
0839: UK stocks have started the day down as traders pull-back to regroup and assess the content of the minutes of the US Federal Reserve's last rate setting meeting, out last night. The initial interpretation was that the US central bank is now more likely to taper the size of its asset purchases. Interestingly, however, for some at the Fed that has to do with the need to manage so-called 'balance-sheet' risk. The risk-off mode has taken a particularly heavy toll on miners. Yet if ENRC exploded to the downside this morning then BAE Systems initially did just the opposite. The latter's stock rose sharply despite unveiling a six per cent fall in underlying earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation (EBITA). German purchasing managers' data just in this morning looks weaker than forecast. There are Spanish Treasury debt auctions on tap for later on Thursday, towards 10:00. At least two Fed speakers are scheduled for this evening, albeit after the close of UK markets. FTSE 100 down 81 to 6,315.