1630 Close: The FTSE 100 ended up 92.62 points to 6,584.70 as the Federal Reserve's decision to reduce its bond buying programme ended months of uncertainty and boosted confidence in the US economy. The central bank announced it would reduce its monthly asset purchases to $75bn from $85bn. Policymakers predicted that the jobless rate - currently at 7 per cent - would drop to around 6.5 per cent by the end of 2014. However, they stressed that they would hold interest rates close to zero for some time especially if inflation continues to run below its 2 per cent longer-run target. "These reassurances around interest rates effectively offset the negative implications on the markets of less asset purchases, leaving plenty of reason to continue to buy in this cheap money environment. As long as the Fed continues to stand by this promise, we may avoid a sharp pull back in the markets," said Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari.
1500: Cruise operator Carnival has surged into the top spot on the FTSE 100 risers list on Thursday after reporting a smaller-than-expected decline in net revenue yields in the fourth quarter. Net revenue yields in constant dollars fell by 2.1 per cent year-on-year, better than the company's guidance given in September of a 3-4 per cent fall.
1330: US jobless claims climbed by 10,000 to 379,000 in the week ended December 14th, the most since the end of March, Labor Department data showed. Economists had called for a decrease to 336,000.
1220: UK car production rose 4.5 per cent to 1.42m units in the first 11 months of the year, according to a report from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). SMMT said manufacturing output was on track to hit a six-year high of more than 1.5m vehicles in 2013, driven by new models coming onto the market such as the third-generation Mini.
1100: UK retail sales last month rose by a modest 0.3 per cent against October, in line with forecasts. Clothing shoppers drove the increase as people sought warmer outfits in the colder weather, but it was offset by lower spending in department stores, according to the Office for National Statistics. The amount spent in the retail industry during the month increased by 2.7 per cent compared with November 2012, but by just 0.2 per cent compared with October 2013.
1005: The FTSE 100 has pared earlier gains but is still up 54.66 at 6,546.74, its highest level in over a week, helped by gains from pharma peers AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline. Astra announced this morning that it is spending up 4.1bn dollars to buy-out Bristol-Myers Squibb in their diabetes joint venture. Glaxo also advanced after announcing yesterday evening that US regulators have approved Anoro Ellipta, its treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Upside however was limited on the news that Denmark has approved the sale of a generic copy of GSK's biggest product, Advair.
0813: The FTSE 100 has jumped by one per cent early on after the Fed's move to scale back QE last night. Ending months of uncertainty for financial markets worldwide, the Fed tapered its monthly bond-buying programme from 85bn dollars to 75bn dollars and reiterated its stance to keep rates near zero, as long as inflation remains subdued. 'This should in turn remove much of the volatility that we have seen in the final quarter of 2013, gearing us up for a delayed but eagerly anticipated 'Santa Rally' to finish this year in a bang and kick of the next year in an upbeat fashion,' said Market Strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital. The FTSE 100 up 62.06 points at 6,554.14.