1630:CloseThe FTSE 100 ended down by 11.35 points to 6,558.82 as investors showed their nerves ahead of the US Federal Reserve's stimulus announcement. The central bank was expected to scale back its $85bn per month in bond purchases as it wrapped up the final day of its policy meeting late Wednesday. Economists had pegged a tapering of between $10bn to $15bn per month. Earlier in the day the Bank of England also released the minutes of its last meeting which showed members voted 9-0 for keeping interest rates at the record low of 0.5 per cent and the asset purchase facility at 375bn pounds.
1622: Just off the phone with Cesar Nuez, technical analyst at Traderwatch. At least a handful of the investment professionals whom we have spoken with of late seem rather upbeat on the Japanese equity market (at least in Yen
terms). So, what's the technical outlook for the Nikkei-225? For Nuez the benchmark is carving out a so-called "bullish pennant" chart pattern. Should it break the 15,000 points level it will likely be headed towards 18,000, although a breach of the 16,000 point area would confirm that.
1618: From Ian Gordon at Investec: "Although Barclays remains our preferred UK domestic bank, we continue to see far better value in Standard Chartered (Buy) which trades on just 9.2x 2014e - THE cheapest UK bank!" For its part, analysts at Morgan Stanley have today added Lloyds to their Best Ideas List.
1553: One reliable market source is referencing "chatter" around Intel and ARM Holdings as the reason behind the rise seen in the stock price of the latter, although he is warning not to read too much into it. FTSE 100 down 21 to 6,549.
1549: US President Obama has begun speaking at a meeting of the business round-table. He make remarks relative to the looming budget deficit. he has said that he will negotiate the budget, but not the debt ceiling.
1416: The reaction to some gloomy US housing data has been relatively muted with stock futures on Wall Street still flat. US building permits fell by a much worse-than-expected 3.8 per cent in August (consensus: -0.4 per cent), while housing starts rose 0.9 per cent (consensus: +2.3 per cent). The FTSE 100 is down 5.22 points at 6,564.95.
1345: US stock futures are currently looking broadly flat ahead of the Fed decision (see below). Back on this side of the Atlantic, a study by HSBC has found that almost a fifth of UK workers believe they will never be able to retire.
1215: Markets at rangebound as investors showed nervousness ahead of the all-important Federal Reserve policy decision later this evening. UK stocks are registering moderate gains by midday but just 19 points separated the FTSE 100's intraday low (6,568) and high (6,587) as traders refrained from building positions ahead of the main 'risk event' of the day. Company wise, banking group Lloyds is among the best performers today. The stock is recovering after sinking sharply yesterday following the news that the government placed a 6% stake as it formally began the process of disposing its stake following the state bailout in 2008.
1130: Fresnillo shares
have taken a hit after UBS reduced its estimates for the precious metals producer on the back of the recent news about unexpected increases to mining royalties in Mexico. The target price has in turn been lowered from 1,250p to 1,150p and a 'neutral' rating has been maintained.
1020: The FTSE is sitting modestly higher, around six to seven points higher than at the opening bell. Leading the way is Smiths Group, which in a difficult trading environment produced a mixed bag of results, but pleased investors with the promise of an extra 30p per share special dividend. Meanwhile, Citigroup strategists have predicted that the FTSE could reach 8,000 by the end of 2014, citing factors such as reduced fears over the Eurozone.
0930: The minutes of the Bank of Engand's (BoE) Monetary Policy Committee's (MPC) meeting show the decision was a 9-0 vote for keeping Bank Rate at 0.5 per cent and a 9-0 vote for keeping the size of the asset purchase facility at 375bn pounds, which was 'in line' with expectations. Nonetheless, some committee members still feel more stimulus might be needed at some point, "based in part on their judgements about the speed with which the degree of slack in the economy might be reduced if the momentum in demand continued to grow". The main concerns centred on emerging markets, which were reporting weaker activity while higher oil prices
- relating largely to Syria - were also something to watch. Stronger sterling was also noted, writes Bill Hubard, Chief Economist at Markets.com. GBP/USD rose to an eight-month high [although it is now in over-bought territory according to technical indicators] while gilts pared gains after the minutes.
0902: UK stocks have begun the day slightly higher, led by gains in Smiths Group and Standard Chartered. That comes ahead of this evening's result of the latest US Federal Reserve policy meeting. Significantly, the Bloomberg consensus has now shifted and is calling for only 5bn dollars of Fed tapering. The minutes of the September Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting are released at 09:30. Barclays Research expects them to show a unanimous vote (9-0) to leave Bank Rate and quantitative easing (QE) unchanged at 0.50 per cent and 375bn pounds respectively. FTSE 100 up 1 point to 6,571.