Market overview: FTSE closes down two points at 6,834

LONDON (ShareCast) – 1630:Close The FTSE 100 closed lower, despite hitting an intraday high not seen since May last year. The index was being dragged down by miners, hit by weak metals prices and a downgrade to commodity price forecasts for the current year. On the macro front, the CBI said its total orders gauge rose to show a balance of 13 versus the reading of 20 seen in April 2011, indicating that UK firms are starting to plan for investment. Over in the US stock markets are off to a mixed start as markets reacted to the latest data from China, released yesterday, and disappointing earnings. The FTSE 100 closed down 2.47 points at 6,834.26.

1551: Real (Xetra: RQX.DE – news) estate stocks are among the best performers today with British Land (LSE: BLND.L – news) making gains after upbeat comments from HSBC. The bank labelled it as its key ‘overweight’-rated property group in the UK as it gave a positive outlook for the sector. HSBC said the UK commercial real estate market is entering ‘phase three’ of its recovery: ‘This is a phase where an improving and accelerating economy induces rental growth resulting in a prolonged and sustainable period of capital value growth.’ The FTSE 100 is down 3.96 at 6,832.77.

1511: Ladbrokes (LSE: LAD.L – news) is near the bottom of the pile after JPMorgan Cazenove expressed concerns about potential regulatory restrictions on machine gaming, which could result in ‘material downgrades and significant shop closures’ at the bookmaker. FTSE 100 up 10 to 6,847.

1431: As a part of its updated global economic forecasts the International Monetary Fund has trimmed its estimate for economic growth in the US next year by four tenths of a percentage point, to 3 per cent.

1430: The proportion of fund managers polled by Bank of America (TLO: BAC.TI – news) -Merrill Lynch who believe the global economy will strengthen this year has risen to a net 75 per cent from a net 71 per cent in December, continuing a trend of rising optimism that started in late 2012, the broker has announced.

1245: The latest quarterly earnings per share (EPS) numbers for US corporate heavyweights Johnson&Johnson and Verizon Communications (LSE: VZC.L – news) have come in ahead of forecasts, although the former’s full-year EPS guidance undershot consensus.

1200: At today’s policy meeting the Turkish central bank opted to keep its main policy rate unchanged at 4.5 per cent, as expected. Nevertheless, this is part of what Capital Economics had to say on the subject: “The Turkish central bank (CBRT) bowed to government pressure by leaving its key interest rates unchanged, in spite of the sharp fall in the lira, high inflation and rising inflation expectations”. FTSE 100 up 18 to 6,854.

1106: US oilfield services firm Baker Hughes (Stuttgart: BHU.SG – news) has unveiled quarterly earnings per share of 62 cents, just in line with market forecasts. That may weigh on shares of sector peer Weir.

1100: The CBI’s total orders gauge for industry slipped to a reading of -2 in January versus economists forecasts for a reading of 10.

1000: The ZEW institute’s index of economic sentiment for Germany slipped to 61.7 in January from a reading of 62 in the month before (consensus: 63.4).

0920: Nomura raises target price on easyJet from 1375p to 1634p reiterating its buy recommendation. The Japanese broker has also upped its target on IAG to 474p from 380p beforehand.

0919: JP Morgan (Other OTC: JPYYL – news) raises target price on Hargreaves Lansdown (LSE: HL.L – news) from 1415p to 1656p maintaining an overweight rating.

0841: The Footsie has begun the day a tad higher, buoyed by gains in shares of Unilever (NYSE: UL – news) . The consumer goods giant has reported a slightly higher than forecast rise in fourth quarter like-for-like sales. SAB Miller, on the other hand, seems to have disappointed investors with its third quarter revenue figures. Miners are almost uniformly lower this morning despite new measures by the Beijing to alleviate funding pressures in China’s credit markets. Later today the IMF will release its updated World Economic Outlook. CBI is due to release its industrial trends survey at 11:00. FTSE 100 up 7 to 6,844.

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