1630: Close The FTSE continued its journey lower today, as investors grew increasingly concerned over events in Cyprus and the Eurozone as a whole. Manufacturing data from the region showed its fastest rate of contraction in three months, dashing hopes of an economic recovery. Things were looking up closer to home though, with UK February sales coming in above expectations. Company wise, ENRC fell after Deutsche Bank reduced its target price from 550p to 539p, one day after the company labelled 2012 as a 'challenging year' as a swing into the red led to the miner scrapping its final dividend. The FTSE closed down 44 points at 6,389.
1609: The Eurogroup will hold a conference call on the situation in Cyprus tonight, at 7PM, according to Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
1401: Existing home sales for the month of February have come in at an annualised rate of 4.98m (Consensus: 5.0m). The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's manufacturing gauge for the month of March improved to 2.0 (Consensus: -3.3). FTSE 100 down 61 to 6,371.
1235: The FTSE is firmly in negative territory, hit by weaker than expected manufacturing and services sector data from the Eurozone, and the situation in Cyprus, where the European Central Bank has warned the country has only until Monday before it will cut off its banks from the Emergency Liquidity Assistance programme. The latest out from the country is that a bill to create a Solidarity Fund is to be submitted to Parliament at 7pm local time this evening. The FTSE is down 48 points at 6,385.
1230: Initial weekly unemployment claims dropped by 10,000 last week, to reach 332,000 (Consensus: 343,000).
1013: Spain's Treasury has successfully sold 4.51bn euros in medium to long term debt, that is considerably more than the maximum of 4.0bn euros which had been targeted. Worth pointing out, the details of the auction were fairly robust, with improving bid-to-cover ratios in two of the debt tranches which were offered and lower yields across the board.
0930: Retail sales volumes rose by far more than was expected in February, gaining by 2.1 per cent month-on-month, versus the 0.4 per cent which had been estimated by economists. Public sector net borrowing (PSNB ex) was 2.8bn pounds in February 2013 (Consensus: 8.4bn pounds). The deficit was reduced by 2.7bn pounds as a result of cash transfers from the Bank of England Asset Purchase Facility Fund to Government and by 2.3bn pounds as a result of proceeds from the 4G spectrum auction.
0845: UK stocks have started the day modestly lower, as the crisis in Cyprus unfolds. The country's banks are now expected to remain closed until next Tuesday, while the European Central Bank has committed itself to providing liquidity until Monday. The latter puts the onus on the government in Nicosia to find a viable solution. Shares of Next are leading advancers on the Footsie following its full-year results while United Utilities has announced a positive trading statement. Of note as well is the better-than-expected reading on Chinese manufacturing which came out overnight. That, however, has been tempered in early trading by the latest weak purchasing managers' survey data out in the Eurozone. Public borrowing and retail sales data for February are released at 09:30. FTSE 100 down 38 to 6,395.