1630: Close The FTSE was firmly in negative territory by the close of today's session, as risk appetite was scaled back ahead of a potential tapering of stimulus by the Federal Reserve next week. Sector wise, the only gains were seen among utility stocks - typically seen as a 'safe haven', while the downside was led by Sports Direct despite a jump in H1 profits, and Perform Group dragged the second tier index lower following a profit warning. Macro wise, Chancellor George Osborne dismissed fears that his 'Help to Buy' scheme would create a house price bubble, while the BCC said it had upgraded its forecast for UK economic growth next year, predicting it will bounce back from the 'deepest recession in modern times'. The FTSE 100 closed down 62.47 points at 6,445.25.
1609: "The MPC's forward guidance has continued to be relatively unsuccessful in decoupling markets in the UK from those in the US. However, investors seem to have largely priced in the prospect of tapering, suggesting that gilt yields are unlikely to jump significantly higher in response to the Fed's next move," is telling clients this afternoon.
1533: The companies running Britain's water, electricity and gas networks stand to gain from the regulatory framework, ratings agency Standard & Poor's has said today, Bloomberg reports. FTSE 100 down 60 to 6,448.
1530: "A very painful warning today; a real knock to management credibility and mistakes have been made. BUT, this is the buying opportunity we had been waiting for - not for the faint-hearted, clearly...," Jefferies says when commenting on the fiasco at Perform group today.
1415: In a research note issued today analysts at JP Morgan Chase said the short-term credit impact of UK regulations on utilities will be limited.
1331: Initial unemployment claims rose by 68,000 in the week ended December 7th, to reach 368,000, according to the last data available from the Department of Labour. The consensus estimate was for a reading of 320,000. Said rise is clearly linked to problems with applying seasonal adjustment factors to the data.
1330: US retail sales expanded at a 0.7 per cent month-on-month pace in November (consensus: 0.5 per cent). Excluding automobile sales they nudged higher by 0.4 per cent (consensus: 0.2 per cent). FTSE 100 down 57 to 6,451.
1300: Perform Group has warned that its full-year revenue for 2013 will be below previous expectations, pushing earnings 'significantly' below forecasts. The warning, which also revealed results for 2014 are expected to miss expectations, nearly halved the value of the company's stock. The FTSE 100 fell 56.73 to 6,450.99.
1112: The FTSE 100 has sunk further into the red and is now trading 53.6 points lower at 6,454.12 with stock futures Stateside pointing to a weak start on Wall Street in a few hours' time. London's benchmark index has not closed below its current level since October 10th when it finished at 6,430.49. Nevertheless, analysts at Capital Economics see the FTSE 100 outperforming over the next few years due to a weaker pound and a cyclical rebound in profits, following its underperformance in 2013. In fact, they see the index hitting 7,500 by 2015, whereas the S&P 500
will 'struggle from here,' reaching just 1,850 by that time.
0936: Sportswear and equipment retailer Sport Direct has slumped early on despite delivering a near-17 per cent jump in underlying profits during its first half, driven by an increase in online and international sales. However, the company did say that "[current] trading has now reverted to management's original expectations" following the outperformance in the first half. Energy services firm Wood Group has also disappointed with a pre-close trading update this morning after saying that trading remaining mixed across its three main divisions. Sector peers AMEC and Petrofac are also lower. The FTSE 100 is down 31.53 at 6,476.19.
0900: Former Labour City Minister, Lord Myners, has been appointed to lead a review into the operation of Co-operative Group. Myners will join the board as a Senior Independent Director with immediate effect to help the company face up to some 'serious challenges' at what he described as a 'crucial' time. The review, which is being conducted alongside a government inquiry into the group's near collapse, comes after its former bank head, Paul Flowers, was arrested over drug allegations. The FTSE 100 is down 33.16 points to 6,474.56.
0830: The FTSE has fallen sharply in early trade, hit by concerns over tapering Stateside. Stocks on both sides of the Pond were driven lower after two Chief Congressional negotiators last night worked out a deal that would set spending at about 1.01trn dollars in the current fiscal year, up from the 967bn dollars required in a 2011 budget plan. Sports Direct was leading the downside, despite posting a 16.9 per cent jump in H1 underlying profit. However, the group did suffer a small decline in its Brand division and debt jumped 18.8 per cent due to the investment in inventory and acquisitions.