1630:Close The City ended today's session in a buoyant mood, lifted by a strong performance amongst housebuilders on news of the 'Help to Buy' extension to 2020, costing 6bn pounds. Meanwhile, asking prices for homes in the UK rose by 1.6 per cent month-on-month in March, to hit a new record high of 255,962 pounds. In other macro news, bad weather and a fresh wave of belt-tightening after the New Year sales kept shoppers off the UK High Street last month, figures from BRC revealed. On the geopolitical front, an overwhelming majority of Crimeans on Sunday voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia, even while the US and Europe promised not to recognise the outcome. In response, both the EU and the US have imposed travel bans and asset freezes on nearly two dozen officials from the Russian Federation and Ukraine. FTSE 100 closed up 40.46 points at 6,568.35.
1450: US President Obama has signed announced new sanctions against some Russian interests linked to arms sector, reiterating that the integrity of Ukraine will be respected. According to Forex.com markets have been 'encouraged' by the as yet "toothless" sanctions applied against Russia. For their part, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch has singled out SSE as one stock which is particularly vulnerable to their worst case scenario of an interruption to natural gas supplied from Russia. BG Group may be a beneficiary in such a situation.
1400: The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) home price index rose to 47 points from a reading of 46 in the month before. The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 50. Shares of Sport Direct are moving higher on strong trading volumes but on no readily apparent news.
1330: Three month copper futures are moving higher by 0.6 per cent to 6,542.50 dollars on the LME.
1315: US industrial production rose by 0.6 per cent over the month in February, well ahead of the 0.2 per cent forecast by economists.
1230: The Empire State manufacturing sector gauge rose to 5.61 in March from 4.48 in the month before (consensus: 6.5).
1212: Stock futures are pointing to a strong start on Wall Street in the next couple of hours as US markets track their European counterparts higher. Futures are indicating gains of around 0.6 per cent for the three main US benchmarks. The FTSE 100 is up 27.39 at 6,555.28.
1136: "Most of the indicators in recent months have pointed to strengthening in home-related expenditure," Credit Suisse says in a research report on Kingfisher. The Swiss broker has hiked its price target to 460p from 440p.
1010: Glencore Xstrata is reportedly close to announcing a multi-billion dollar
transaction to sell its Las Bambas mine to a group of investors led by minmetals. FTSE 100 up 27 to 6,555.
1000: Eurozone consumer prices advanced at a 0.7 per cent year-on-year in February, according to revised estimates from Eurostat. Nonetheless, the 'core' rate is still showing a 1.0 per cent pace of gains versus 0.8 per cent in January, unrevised.
0906: Tesco has been downgraded by analysts at bank of America-Merrill Lynch to 'underperform' from 'neutral'.
0846: UK stocks have begun the session higher, with homebuilders in the lead following news that the Chancellor intends to extend the Help to Buy scheme until 2020. As well, UK house prices rose by another 1.6 per cent over the month in February, Rightmove said. That comes despite the referendum held on Sunday in Crimea and ahead of Eurozone CPI due out at 10:00. Overnight, Beijing announced that it would widen the trading band for the Yuan. Also worth noting, there are reports pointing to solid activity in capital markets, with China's Alibaba preparing to float on the NYSE and Jimmy Choo in London. FTSE 100 up 19 to 6,547.