1630:Close It was reported today that house prices in the UK have stagnated for the past five years since the collapse of mortgage lender Northern Rock. Thus, the average price of a home coming to market this September is £234,858, a mere 0.7% higher than a year earlier and 0.1% lower than in September 2007, according to property website Rightmove. As a comparison, average asking prices soared by 55% between 2002 and 2007. Looking abroad, there has been considerable concern over Spain and the rumours that it might be looking to try and avoid having to ask for a full European bailout. Eurozone finance Ministers meeting in Cyprus on Saturday were described as divided over whether Spain ought to ask for a rescue immediately or instead try and tough it out. No less important, the rise in tensions between Japan and China over the weekend. Acting as a backdrop, some observers openly questioned whether the Federal Reserve´s third round of quantitative easing (QE) will be effective or not. As the Financial Times called attention to today on its front page, citing an anonymous executive at a leading lender, "in the very near-term [QE3] has virtually no transfer mechanism whatsoever to the customer (...) originators are massively backlogged in terms of origination volumes." The index closed down 22 points at 5,894.
1619: Ashmore is leading advancers today on the top share index despite its impending ouster from the same. Nevertheless, and as the Financial Mail on Sunday´s Midas column commented yesterday, that is not necessarily such a horrible thing. FTSE 100 down 28 to 5,888.
1531: Cable&Wireless has received an approach from Batelco Group regarding its Monaco&Islands unit.
1522: Shares of South Africa focused platinum miner Lonmin are moving higher quickly on reports that its workers have agreed to lower their wage demands. Its shares
are now the second-best performers on the FTSE 350, rising by 5.9%.
1511: According to ratings agency Standard&Poor´s BAE´s and EADS´ risk profiles would benefit were the companies to merge.
1455: US stocks opened slightly lower, giving no reason for Footsie to shake off its lethargy. Worth pointing out, some observers seem to be asking themselves whether the Federal Reserve´s quantitative easing (QE) policy will really be effective, or not. BT, one of the big beasts of the top-share index, is weighing Footsie down after Exane BNP Paribas switched to a neutral stance on the stock, having previously expected the stock to outperform the market. FTSE 100 is down 26 at 5,889.
1210: Anglo-Dutch companies dominated corporate news flow in the morning session. Royal Dutch Shell slipped after running into problems with its Alaskan drilling campaign; Reckitt Benckiser rose after poaching Smith & Nephews well-regarded Chief Financial Officer; Unilever edged up after UBS upgraded the stock and upped the price target by two quid to 2400p. Away from Anglo-Dutch companies, Ashmore led the small contingent of risers among Footsie constituents after RBC Capital Markets reiterated its outperform rating. FTSE 100 is down 18 at 5,897.
1032: Shares in Aquarius Platinum have surged after a week-end which saw South Africa police, augmented by military personnel, launch a crack-down on strikers and protestors. The company always intended to resume mining operations on Sunday evening but there was always the chance that the situation would worsen over the week-end and prevent a resumption of mining. Despite the succession of mining companies (Aquarius, Xstrata, Amplats) releasing notifications of the resumption of mining activities, it is far from a case of a return to normal, with conditions in the region still reportedly tense. FTSE 100 is down 21 at 5,894.
0928: This morning's drilling report from Ophir Energy, though couched in the usual upbeat tones, has been greeted with scepticism by the market. Ophir said that three results in its drilling programme in block R, Equatorial Guinea were better than expected, resulting in the recoverable contingent resources estimate more than quadrupling from the pre-2012 drilling programme estimate. Evidently, the market was expecting more as the shares are the worst performers among FTSE 250 constituents. Footsie remains in the red but has returned above 5900 as miners turn firmer. Reckitt Benckiser has been moving higher after an upgrade on its shares out of analysts at UBS, to buy from neutral. FTSE 100 is down 11 at 5,905.
0844: For analysts at Credit Suisse BUY Wolseley-SELL CRH is the preferred pair trade idea in the sector, they write this morning. Investec has downgraded shares of RBS to sell.
0817: UK stocks have opened on the back foot with traders agitating over possible delays to the Eurozone´s plans for a banking union, as Germany calls for a more measured approach. Also weighing on sentiment is "market chatter" pointing to a slower policy response from Chinese authorities as the US and Europe act to head-off the worst scenarios. In that same vein, economists at Citigroup have today cut their forecast for Chinese GDP growth this year to 7.6% from 8% before.
Copper inventories with the LME in Asia rose last week for the first time in five, by 3.9% to 93,050 tons. Mobile phone network titan Vodafone is lower after Chief Financial Officer Andy Halford told the Bloomberg news agency that the company may make a provision to cover legal risks associated with its fight to avoid a huge tax bill in India. FTSE 100 is down 17 at 5,898.