1630: Close A strong finish to today's session put an end to the recent pattern of losses amongst UK companies, with so-called 'momentum' stocks providing a lift alongside several strong earnings reports. Also aiding the upwards trend was the release of UK unemployment data, which dropped unexpectedly to 6.9 per cent for the three months to February, down from 7.2 per cent in the previous three months and below the consensus forecast of 7.1 per cent. Also in the UK, the financial morale of households reached its highest level in over five years this month as consumers worried less about rising inflation, according to data released by Markit. Over in the States, industrial production rose more than expected in March as the weather improved following a rough winter. The FTSE 100 closed up 42.56 points at 6,584.17.
1600: US industrial production rose by 0.7 per cent in March, following a 1.2 per cent increase a month earlier. Analysts had expected a 0.5 per cent gain. Manufacturing output last month climbed 0.5 per cent after rising 1.4 per cent in February, missing estimates for a 0.6 per cent advance.
1448: International Consolidated Airlines gained as HSBC Holdings upgraded the parent of British Airways to 'overweight' from 'neutral', saying it sees strong earnings momentum in 2014 and 2015. The broker sees recent weakness in the share price as a buying opportunity. FTSE 100 up 29 to 6,570.
1307: Stock futures on Wall Street are pointing to a decent start despite Bank of America falling in pre-market trade after its results. The bank reported a five cents-a-share loss for the first quarter, compared with a profit of 10 cents per share the year before, after it recorded a 6bn-dollar litigation expense relating to a settlement with the Federal Housing Finance Agency and other mortgage issues. The consensus estimate was for a profit of five cents a share. Nevertheless, S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq futures are still showing gains of around 0.4-0.5 per cent.
1200: US mortgage applications rose by 4.3 per cent in the week ended April 11th, compared to a fall of 1.6 per cent, according to the Mortgage Bankers' Association.
1041: Following today's latest unemployment numbers in the UK, James Knightley, economist at ING, has reportedly stuck to his call for a first increase in Bank Rate come February, although risks are skewed towards an earlier move.
1036: China's implied oil demand fell to 9.78m barrels a day in March from February highs of 10.58m barrels a day, up a small 0.6 per cent year-on-year, Barclays Research points out.
1019: Sports Direct is leading the risers on the FTSE 100, trading 6.2 per cent higher as bargain hunters step in following the stock's recent falls. Bank of America is giving the shares
a lift this morning after lifting its target price from 1,000p to 1,070p and raising its forecasts for the company, saying that the retailer's international and online growth is 'underestimated'.
1000: The Eurozone March CPI rose by 0.5 per cent from the prior year, in line with consensus and down from February's 0.7 per cent increase.
0957: Engineering firm Weir has erased losses and is trading higher on the news that Finnish group Metso has rejected its all-share merger proposal which was submitted last month. Metso said that it is 'extremely positive and confident' in its future as a stand-alone company and sees 'no reason to commence discussions regarding a potential combination'. Weir responded by saying it still sees 'compelling strategic rationale' for the merger but said there is no certainty that it will revise its proposal. Weir is up 0.1 per cent at 2,541p.
0930: The UK unemployment rate dropped unexpectedly to 6.9 per cent for the three months to February from 7.2 per cent in the previous three months (consensus: 7.1 per cent).
0835: UK stocks have started the morning with a moderate rise, led by shares of Sports Direct and IAG, two of the stocks which were most sold off during the recent dip in global equity markets. Tesco is another big gainer this morning after beating forecasts for full-year profits before tax. Market expectations for the same, however, were low, point out analysts at Credit Suisse. BAE Systems and Melrose have gone ex-dividend today. Wall Street finished in the blue overnight. Shares of Yahoo and Intel traded up in extended hours trading after they released their latest quarterly results. FTSE 100 up 44 to 6,586.