1630: Close UK stocks ended the day in the red, dragged by developments in Ukraine and a poor performance by Barclays, AstraZeneca and Aberdeen Asset Management. The negatives were somewhat offset by predictions the UK economy will grow 3.2 per cent in 2014, according to the OECD. Over in Eastern Europe, tensions grew with Germany advising its citizens in east and south Ukraine to leave as it believes the country is just a 'few steps' away from 'military confrontation'. Meantime, sterling hit an intraday high at 1.6999 versus the US dollar
ahead of the next MPC meeting, likely as traders try and test Governor Carney´s patience, as they are sometimes wont to do. The FTSE 100 closed down 23.86 points at 6,798.56 - significantly just below the 6,800 mark.
1540: Updated data suggests the US economy shrank in the first quarter, the first time in three years. The previous 0.1 per cent growth figure was revised after the trade deficit, construction spending and business inventories were weaker than expected. Economists now say gross domestic product is likely to be marked as a decline of 0.2-0.4 per cent in the cold weather-ravaged quarter.
1440: UK stocks have sunk further into the red after a weak start on Wall Street with US indices falling by around 0.4-0.5% in the opening 10 minutes. That comes despite upbeat economic data from the States today which showed that the US trade deficit shrunk by 3.6% in March on strong exports, in line with expectations, while the previous month's trade balance was revised lower. The FTSE 100 is down 35.2 at 6,787.22.
1400: The UK economy is predicted to grow 3.2% in 2014, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Looking further ahead, growth in 2015 is expected to be 2.7%, the OECD expects unemployment to fall to 6.5% from its predicted figure of 6.9% this year, with the fiscal balance dropping from -5.3% for this year to -4.1% in 2015.
1205: Falls from Barclays, Aberdeen, AstraZeneca and Balfour Beatty pulled UK markets lower on Tuesday as investors returned to their desks in a cautious mood following the three-day weekend. Heightened tensions in Ukraine were also keeping risk appetite in check after an army helicopter was shot down yesterday by pro-Russian activists near the city of Sloviansk. The FTSE 100, which was closed on Monday for a public holiday, was down 0.2% at 6,811 by midday after having closed at 6,822.42 on Friday, its highest finish since March 4th.
1200: Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca on Tuesday set out its defence against a 63bn pounds takeover bid from US rival Pfizer as it urged Britain not to take sides in the affair. AstraZeneca has now issued a market update highlighting "excellent growth prospects, a rapidly progressing pipeline and the future delivery of shareholder value as an independent company" and said on Tuesday that it was targeting annual revenue of more than $45bn by 2023, versus $25.7bn last year. Last week, it rejected the bid from Pfizer as under-valuing it, but there has been speculation that Pfizer would increase its offer or take it directly to the British company's shareholders.
0930: The Markit UK service sector purchasing managers' index rose to a reading of 58.7 for the month of April, from 57.6 in the month before (consensus: 57.8). FTSE 100 down 11 to 6,811.
0840: UK stocks have begun the session with the slightest of dips despite a positive finish on Wall Street and the better-than-expected figures out this morning on the Eurozone periphery's services sector, namely in France, Italy and Spain. Spanish unemployment has also surprised sharply to the downside in April, plummeting by 111,600. Barclays is the worst performer now on the Footsie following its first quarter results. Numis has upgraded its view on shares
of Melrose to 'hold' versus 'reduce' while Morgan Stanley raised its recommendation on Standard Life to 'equal-weight'. Chinese services PMI data over the weekend printed below analysts' forecasts. Even so, three-month copper futures on the LME closed up by 1.11 per cent at 6,719 dollars per metric tonne on Monday. FTSE 100 down 9 to 6,814.