1630: Close Today's session saw Intertek fall into the bottom spot after Jefferies downgraded the stock from hold to underperform. Meanwhile, M&S posted poorer-than-expected sales figures for the key Christmas period in a trading update, while internet purchases supported a moderate rise in sales at Tesco. In UK economic news, the Bank of England maintained its main policy rate while the size of its asset purchase programme was unchanged, at 0.5 per cent and 375bn pounds, as expected. Looking abroad, the ECB kept its rates unchanged at 0.75 per cent, while weekly US initial unemployment claims rose by 4,000 to 371,000 (Consensus: 365,000). The FTSE 100 closed up three points at 6,102.
1332: In his press conference ECB President Mario Draghi seems to have opted for a rather more upbeat view of current events, leading some market commentary to pose the question of whether he has effectively taken interest rate cuts off the table. The Euro
has rallied in response.
1330: Weekly US initial unemployment claims rose by 4,000 to 371,000 (Consensus: 365,000). The previous week's reading was revised down by 5,000 to 367,000. FTSE 100 up 11 to 6,110.
1245: The European Central Bank keeps rates unchanged at 0.75 per cent.
1200: Bank of England maintains main policy rate and the size of its asset purchase program unchanged, at 0.5 per cent and 375bn pounds, as expected.
1152: According to Sky sources in an e-mail to analysts a Sainsbury executive has reportedly questioned Tesco's trading figures. The issue raised by Sainsbury appears to have to do with the revenue recognition of sales related to those customers who have used Clubcard vouchers.
1151: A few analysts, but not all, are upbeat on Tesco's trading statement today. This is what Seymour Pierce thinks: "There is still much to be done given general merchandise remains a drag and we believe there will be no visibility on whether UK profits have bottomed until the second half of 2013. With inflation coming back and too many of its international businesses also facing trading issues currently, we reiterate our Reduce recommendation as we believe there is a high risk that things will get worse before they get better." FTSE 100 up 5 to 5,104.
1054: The FTSE 100 is still trading in positive territory, albeit only just, trading seven points higher at 6,105. The mood on markets continues to be cautious today ahead of the BoE decision in just under an hour and the ECB decision later on. Just 13 points separate the Footsie's intraday low (6,097) and high (6,110). Nevertheless, this morning's well-subscribed bond auction in Spain has helped keep markets in the blue, with 10-year yields dropping below five per cent for the first time since March 2011. Market analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets said in an e-mail this morning: 'It would appear that the Draghi Put is alive and kicking hard in European bond markets'.
0948: Spanish Treasury has sold 5.8bn euros in debt instruments this morning, versus the 5bn euros expected. The bid-to-cover ratio for the 5 year debt on offer rose to 2.6, versus 1.57 last time, and to 2.9 for the tranche of 13 year debt being sold, versus 2.06 the last time around. FTSE 100 up 10 to 6,109.
0915: ONS has recommended that the government maintain the retail price index. The move has resulted in an unexpected rally in index-linked Gilts. Utilities are also benefiting as any change to RPI would have led to lower indexing of revenues and regulatory asset values. For their part, Barclays adds that: "We see a return in M&A speculation in UK water, which receded last year in the face of potential changes to licences and RPI, as a potential outcome." FTSE 100 up 3 to 6,102.
0912: Deutsche Bank upgrades Wood Group to buy with its target price at 870p.
0905: Espirito Santo drops Marks&Spencer to sell, characterises its Christmas trading as 'dreadful.'
0840: The Footsie remains below technical resistance at 6,100 this morning, at 6,099.08, although at different moments in the last 24 hours it has managed to briefly flitter above that level. In itself technical analysts at Digital Look believe that the aforementioned is a good signal (looking out to the medium-term), albeit an extremely faint one. In any case, for now at least resistance is holding. That ahead of today's scheduled policy meetings at the European Central Bank and Bank of England. Reaction to strong Chinese export and lending data overnight has been muted thus far. Not to be missed Italian and Spanish Treasury auctions (the first to include so-called 'collective action clauses') are slated for today. Bunzl and Severn Trent are now leading gains on the top share index.