1630:Close Equities finished higher in a fairly volatile day of trading in London. Resource stocks were the best performers although RBS also did very well on the back of news that it might sell its investment banking division. Pearson dropped as the market digested its gloomy short-term forecasts. For today at least the shares
managed to stay above technical support at 1,160p on very heavy trading volumes. Marks&Spencer was lower after weak survey data for February from Kantar Worldpanel. According to the latest exit polls the result of the latest Italian general and regional elections may well be a hung Parliament. On a more positive note, UK Oil&Gas forecast that oil and gas production in the North Sea will trough this same year. Sterling finished the day at 1.5132 up by 0.25% on the day. FTSE 100 up 20 to 6,355.
1535: Maverick politician Beppe Grillo is now leading the vote recount in the senate according to Italian news agency ANSA. Together, however, it is the centre right parties which may win the Senate, Il Sole 24 Ore reports. FTSE 100 up 40 to 6,376.
1417: The first Italian exit polls are reportedly pointing to a favourable outcome for PD leader Bersani, who may even be able to govern without the support of Mario Monti's followers. Contrary to what some had been expecting the initial reaction has been a further drop in Eurozone periphery bond yields. Nevertheless, in a report dated February 18th Credit Suisse alluded to such a scenario as being 'potentially strong.'
1242: Shares of BP are bouncing off of technical support at their exponential 200 day moving average following reports out over the weekend hinting at a possible comprehensive out-of-court settlement with US authorities.
1141: At a probability of 32 per cent "(...) the risk of a hung parliament in Italy where [Bersani's] PD+Monti win the lower house but not the senate is high," analysts at RBS write today. A hung parliament would be a strong negative for the market, as the senate can virtually block any key laws passed in the lower house. Even a winning PD+Monti coalition could end up running the senate by just a handful of seats and will likely depend on SEL, a far-left ally of the PD which opposes Monti and certain reforms. Both a hung parliament and a weak majority could generate a period of political instability, possibly resulting in new elections over the coming months, they go on to explain.
0931: Shares of Irish pharmaceutical outfit Elan are rising by 7 per cent after receiving a 6.5bn dollar
buy-out offer from RP Management.
0930: The number of mortgages approved in the UK decreased to 57,057 from 61,204 in December, according to data from the BBA. FTSE 100 up 44 to 6,380.
0834: Buoying sentiment this morning, the leader of Cyprus's conservatives Nicos Anastasiades was elected as the seventh president of Cyprus after winning 57.5 per cent of the votes in a second round run-off over the weekend. Anastasiades won by the widest margin in 30 years over.
0830: UK stocks have begun the week higher, albeit lagging behind their Continental peers, despite Moody's decision late on Friday evening to lower its rating on the country's sovereign debt. Leading gains on the Footsie are shares of Antofagasta and Barclays, following positive comments on both out of analysts at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. To be had in account for the latter, the minority shareholders of South Africa's Absa Group on Monday overwhelmingly backed a plan to buy the African operations of parent Barclays for 1.3bn pounds in new shares. Leading falls now is Reckitt Benckiser following a negative ruling from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On the macroeconomic front, UK Oil&Gas last night forecast that North Sea output will recover towards 2m barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2017, from a level of approximately of 1.475m in 2013. Italian polls are scheduled to close at 14:00. Investors seem to be giving short shrift to the weaker than forecast Chinese PMI figures in overnight. FTSE 100 now at its high of the session, up by 45 to 6,380.