1630: Close It was a strong finish for the City today on the back of upbeat performances by a number of UK stocks, hopes of stimulus in both the Eurozone and China, and following a string of economic data releases, including UK CPI which fell to a 52-month low in February. Meanwhile, UK house prices accelerated their pace of gains in January, to rise by 6.8 per cent when compared with year-ago levels, their fastest since August of 2010. The FTSE 100 bounced back from a seven-week low, closing up 84.50 points at 6,604.89.
1405: New US home sales fell by 3.3 per cent month-on-month in February to reach an annualised rate of 440,000 in March, according to the Department of Commerce. Analysts were expecting 445,000. The previous month´s tally has been revised lower, to an annualised rate of 455,000, instead of the 468,000 initially calculated. Meanwhile, the Conference Board´s consumer confidence index for the month of March improved to a reading of 82.3 from 78.3 in the month before. Economists had been expecting a smaller rise to 78.6.
1330: Three month copper futures are higher by 0.9 per cent at 6,559.5 dollars per metric tonne out on the LME.
1326: Carnival has guided towards lower yields this year, versus the 1.5 per cent rise expected by analysts at Numis following recent upbeat guidance from competitor Royal Carribean Cruises.
1317: Jefferies ups its target on Kingfisher to 480p from 440p.
1315: Cruise line operator Carnival registered flat earnings per share during the first quarter of its fiscal year, versus eight cents in the year ago period.
1255: The rise in shares
of SAB Miller is being attributed to an upgrade out of analysts at Sanford Bernstein.
1249: Capital Economics believes February's drop in the CPI largely reflected firms passing on recent falls in commodity prices to consumers, which they expected to fall towards 1 per cent or so later this year. The reasons for that are past declines in agricultural prices feeding through, price cuts at supermarkets and by at least two more utility companies and a decrease in import prices as a result of the stronger pound. FTSE 100 up 75 to 6,596.
1209: Anglo American is to re-start its operations at the Los Bronces mine in Chile.
1131: Analysts at Credit Suisse have lifted their price target on shares of easyJet to 2,021p from 1,988p following today´s pre-close trading update from the budget airline, while reiterating their 'outperform' recommendation on the shares. Significantly, they point out how the stock is now trading on an EV/EBITDAR ratio of 8.3 times and a P/E of 14.6 times, versus its main peer, RyanAir. That is despite the fact that it has surpassed its adversary in terms of returns and cash flow generation. Hence, they believe easyJet should trade at a premium.
1121: "We remain comfortable with our existing calls, with constructive views on Prudential (focus on Asia and US), Aviva (scope for progress on costs, remittances and dividends) and Standard Life (structurally well positioned in the UK savings)", Credit Suisse is telling clients this afternoon.
1100: The Confederation of British Industry´s (CBI) total sales index fell to a reading of 13 per cent in March, after posting 37 per cent in the month before, its distributive trades survey showed.
1017: Anglo American is trading nearly three per cent higher despite the news that it has halted operations at its Los Bronces copper mine in Chile due to violent protests by workers. Analysts at Investec said that Los Bronces contributes 35 per cent of Anglo's attributable copper production and would remove eight per cent of total group operating profits if the disruption lasted for the full year. "Our analyst would expect only a negligible impact on earnings if this dispute with contractors gets resolved reasonably quickly," the broker said. The FTSE 100 is up 68.82 at 6,589.21.
0931: UK producer prices remained flat over the month in February (consensus: 0.2 per cent). Input prices fell 0.4 per cent instead of rising by 0.3 per cent versus January as economists had expected.
0930: The UK´s consumer price index (CPI) registered a rise of 0.5 per cent month-on-month (1.7 per cent year-on-year) in February, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). That was bang in line with expectations.
0910: Credit Suisse cuts SSE target price to 1,600p from 1,700p. easyJet shares have been upgraded to buy from hold at broker Investec.
0900: The German IFO institute´s business confidence index for the month of March slipped to a reading of 110.7 from 111.3 in the month before. Economists had penciled in a print of 110.9. Any mention of recent events in Crimea weighing on sentiment will be watched for.
0844: Gaming group 888 has proposed an extra one-off dividend of 7.0 cents per share on top of a final dividend of 4.0 cents. The shares are bouncing back 6 per cent from recent losses and at the top of the leaderboard over on the FTSE 250.
0830: Markets have begun the day significantly higher. Kingfisher is in the lead early on after unveiling a near ten per cent increase in full-year profits and announcing that it will hand back 200m pounds to shareholders. EasyJet is also on the up after its latest trading statement. Stock in Travis Perkins has been upgraded to 'buy' versus 'hold' at Citi. A raft of first-tier economic data is scheduled for release in the UK, including the latest figures on CPI, producer prices, mortgage lending and the CBI´s distributive trades index. Germany´s IFO institute is set to release its monthly business confidence indicator at 09:00. FTSE 100 up 63 to 6,584.