1630: Close The FTSE 100 finished the day at its highest level in around five years after better-than-expected data from the US and China lifted sentiment. However, the index came off its intraday high slightly before the close as traders began to question whether the US jobs figures were strong enough to prompt the Federal Reserve to scale back its current stimulus measures. Financial stocks were among the best performers in London today: Aviva rebounded (slightly) after disappointing the market yesterday with a dividend cut; HSBC was helped higher by some positive comments from Nomura; while Schroders gained after UBS upgraded its rating on the stock. The FTSE 100 finished 44 points higher at 6,484.
1610: Analysts at Credit Suisse were 'spot on' when, towards the beginning of February, they indicated that: "In absolute terms, getting a lot more performance near term requires realising the value of the Verizon Wireless [VZW] stake. We continue to see this as a potential scenario for 2013." This week a report from Bloomberg indicating that both companies had evaluated several different possible business combinations lit a fire under the company´s share price. Today it is again one of the best performers on the benchmark. However, the stock faces 'technical resistance' towards 192p, just about the valuation which Credit Suisse assigned to the shares
on a break-up [sum of the parts] basis. First support comes in at 176p, which if lost could see the shares move down quickly, towards 169p.
1525: After a sharp move higher straight after the strong US jobs figures, the Footsie has trimmed gains and is now trading just 24 points higher at 6,463. Though, after the index's near-10 per cent rise year to date, it is not surprising that the better-than-expected data wasn't met with a more bullish reaction as it is already trading at levels not seen since before the financial crisis five years ago. Commenting on the figures, Market Strategist Ishaq Siddqi from ETX Capital said: 'This is the fourth month of solid increases in US jobs, indicating that the labour market is on a sustainable path of recovery, although still at a slow pace. This does however indicate, that the Federal Reserve's stimulus measures to juice up the economy have trickled down to the US labour market; good news for those sceptical over the effectiveness of quantitative easing measures.'
1330: US non-farm payrolls increased by 236,000 in February (Consensus: 165,000). The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 per cent from 7.9 per cent in the month before (Consensus: 7.9 per cent). Average hourly earnings rose by 0.3 per cent (Consensus: 0.2 per cent).
1139: The FTSE 100 is up 27 points at 6,466 as markets maintained their positive bias with traders show confidence ahead of a key reading of labour-market strength in the US later on, the February employment report. Expectations have risen in the last few days ahead of the report. The consensus forecast is for a 160k increase in non-farm payrolls in February, but given the much better-than-expected ADP employment report on Wednesday and strong jobless claims figures yesterday, many are now estimating a slight beat. In fact, analysts at Unicredit see non-farm payrolls increasing by 175k.
0930: UK construction output dropped by 6.3 per cent month-on-month in January. Last month consumers´ median inflation expectations rose to 3.6 per cent for over the coming year, as opposed to 3.5 per cent last month, the Bank of England´s latest inflation attitudes survey shows. Expectations over a five year time horizon held steady at 3.6 per cent.
0851: Stocks have jumped out of the gate early on, with miners and financials in the lead. Schroders has been upgraded to neutral (from sell) by analysts at UBS. That ahead of the release of this afternoon´s US employment report. No major data releases are expected today in the UK. Data out overnight in Asia is also giving shares an lift early on. As is often the case, the preliminary estimate for Japanese gross domestic product growth - in the last quarter of 2012 - has been revised sharply higher, to show a rate of expansion of 0.2 per cent. February export data from China was similarly robust, although some economists are wary of the possibility that it may be distorted by capital inflows. FTSE 100 up 38 to 6,477.