1630: Close The FTSE closed lower on Thursday, led by oil giant Royal Dutch Shell which fell after full-year profits slipped slightly as a result of oil price
volatility. An analyst at Investec labelled the company's fourth quarter as a "substantial miss". Heading in the other direction was Vedanta which said that oil and gas output rose 21 per cent and mined metal and silver increased strongly. UK house prices rose by 0.5 per cent to 162,245 pounds in January, versus the previous month, data showed. Prices were flat in comparison to the levels of a year ago, ahead of the 1.0 per cent fall seen in the previous month. The FTSE closed down 46 points at 6,227.
1445: The Chicago NAPM purchasing managers´ index for the month of January has come in at 55.6 after a reading of 50 points for December and expectations for an uptick to 51.
1434: This is what economists at Barclays Research have to say about today´s US unemployment claims data: "Given the volatile seasonal patterns seen during the beginning of the year, we suggest smoothing through the volatility and focusing on the four-week moving average, which was unchanged at 352,000. This is a solid improvement from the 377,000 average seen during the same time period last year."
1330: Initial weekly unemployment claims rose by 38,000 last week, to reach 368,000, well above the 335,000 expected by the consensus. Personal incomes rose at a 2.6 per cent month-on-month pace in December, far above the 0.8 per cent gain forecast by economists, boosted by accelerated and special dividend payments to persons and by accelerated bonus payments and other irregular pay in private wages and salaries in anticipation of changes in individual income tax rates. Personal income in December was also boosted by lump-sum social security benefit payments. FTSE 100 down 37 to 6,286.
1213: Amidst the earnings deluge today investors are also keeping close tabs on long-term interest rates. In the UK Gilt yields, now at 2.11 per cent, are at nine month highs. Meantime, and on the other side of the pond, Unicredit writes today that: "After breaking the 2 per cent threshold, the next key resistance for US Treasuries is 2.05 per cent. If that level is broken, charts point to an increase in yields up to 2.20-2.40 per cent." On a more positive note, the recent rise in yields is a direct result of reduced haven flows as market nervousness over the situation in the Eurozone has diminished. FTSE 100 down 31 to 5,292.
1030: AstraZeneca is now trading down five per cent after its full-year results disappointed. Panmure Gordon pointed out this morning that the figures were 'not as bad as they could have been', highlighting a better-than-expected fourth-quarter performance. However, analyst Savvas Neophytou said that the company's 2013 outlook suggests that downgrades to consensus estimates are likely. Another factor that could be weighing on the shares
this morning is Astra's comment: 'The board has decided that no share repurchases will take place in 2013 in order to maintain the flexibility to invest in the business.' This comes after the group bought back a total of 57.8m shares for 2.64bn dollars in 2012. The FTSE 100 is down 23 points at 6,300.
0834: UK stocks have begun the day slightly lower, tracking Wall Street lower, much as the rest of Europe. Leading falls is AstraZeneca, after announcing a 15 per cent drop in revenues for 2012. Profits at broadcaster and broadband group British Sky Broadcasting on the other hand beat forecasts in the first half of the year, helping the firm to hike its dividend by a fifth. Lonmin is the best performer on the FTSE 350 following an upgrade out of JP Morgan to outperform. UK house prices rose by 0.5 per cent to 162,245 pounds in January, versus the previous month, according to the latest data from Nationwide. FTSE 100 down 14 to 6,309.