1630: Close The FTSE closed in the red tracking losses over on the Dow Jones Stateside. The biggest decliner was William Hill, extending yesterday's losses, while Sage did its best to pull the index back in the other direction following an upbeat trading statement. On the macro front, the UK jobless rate fell more than expected to 7.1 per cent in the three months to November, while the Treasury's public sector net borrowing fell to 12.1bn pounds in December. The FTSE 100 closed down 7.93 points at 6,826.33.
1610: Ahead of the close shares
of easyJet can be seen climbing their way up the leaderboard ahead of the firm's first quarter trading update due out tomorrow. African Barrick Gold is heading in the other direction out on the FTSE 250 after HSBC cut its view on the shares to 'underweight' from 'neutral'.
1545: The latest fund manager survey from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, yesterday, revealed that investors are almost as negative about emerging markets as at the worst moments in 2009 or 2001. Yet economists are forecasting synchronised growth in China, the US, Eurozone, Japan and the UK this year for the first time since 2011. If economists are right then commodity prices may receive an unexpected boost, as might the Canadian and Australian currency units, writes the FT's James Mackintosh. FTSE 100 up 1 to 6,836.
1530: Markets are now trading flat with just an hour to go after a mixed start on Wall Street as investors digest a barrage of corporate earnings, including some disappointing figures from the likes of IBM, AMD and Coach. In the UK, London Stock Exchange is now among the best performers ahead of its third-quarter update tomorrow morning. Heading the other way is High Street bookie William Hill after HSBC reduced its target price for stock from 385p to 350p and maintained an 'underweight' rating. The FTSE 100 is up just 0.82 at 6,835.08.
1348: In a note to clients on the subject of today's release of the minutes of the most recent MPC meeting Dr. Howard Archer comments that the BoE may indeed choose to lower its unemployment rate threshold if it wishes to drive home the point that rates are going nowhere any time soon. As an alternative, it could also opt to add another threshold linked to personal earnings, he says.
1220: Shares of Admiral have moved above technical resistance at 1,425p, their 2013 high. It will be interesting to see how they end the day. Shares of Sage have slipped into the top spot on the leaderboard. As an aside, yields on 10-year Gilts are now up by five basis points to 2.85 per cent. FTSE 100 down 5 to 6,829.
1137: "Such a dramatic drop in unemployment leaves the BoE in a pickle - unemployment is now just 0.1 percentage points above its 7 per cent threshold. The MPC would not have known today's labour market report at the time of its 8/9 January meeting, but it was already playing catch-up with the previous fall in the unemployment rate. As such we expected the minutes to be 'dovish' in an attempt to talk rates down - but surprising the MPC chose not to do this," writes Daniel Vernazza at Unicredit Research.
1007: This is Dr. Howard Archer's, from IHS Global Insight, take on the unemployment data which just came out: "Despite the sharp drop in unemployment, we believe the odds are still strongly in favour interest rates staying at 0.50 per cent all through 2014. While interest rates will probably start rising in 2015, this may still not happen until towards the middle of the year." Capital Economics is of much the same opinion, although they do expect the MPC to modify their forward guidance alongside next month's Inflation Report as a result.
0930: UK unemployment claims dropped by 24,000. The unemployment rate fell to 7.1 per cent (consensus: 7.3 per cent). As expected at its last meeting the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) opted to maintain its policy settings unchanged by a unanimous vote. The Bank of England saw no need to raise its main policy rate should the 7% unemployment rate threshold be hit in the near future, the just-released minutes of that meeting showed.
0916: Numis ups Admiral to 'buy' from 'add' and lifts target price by 285p to 1,710p.
0913: Credit Suisse stays at overweight on European banks. HSBC remains amongst the broker's 'top picks' and Standard Chartered and RBS amongst its least preferred.
0843: UK stocks have started the day moving higher, despite the poor reception given to IBM's latest quarterly earnings - out overnight - and the mixed close to trading seen on Wall Street. Admiral is in the lead early on, following positive comments on the shares out of analysts at Numis. Sage Group is in second place after the company today reaffirmed its revenue targets for 2015. RBS is the worst performer on the Footsie. Analysts at UBS have lowered their price target on the stock to 'sell' from 'neutral'. UK employment data and the minutes of the MPC's last rate-setting meeting are due for release at 09:30. FTSE 100 up 23 to 6,857.