Market overview: FTSE closes down 53 points at 6,773

LONDON (ShareCast) – 1630:Close The FTSE declined by more than 50 points in today’s session, hit by poor US and Chinese data and an unimpressive trading update from Pearson (NYSE: PSO – news) . US manufacturing growth suffered its first slowdown in three months in January, while back in the UK BoE Govenor Mark Carney said he sees no need for an immediate increase in the Bank Rate and MPC (KOSDAQ: 050540.KQ – news) member McCafferty said the committee is watching currency markets. Also on the macro front, the CBI’s Distributive Trades Sales Index dropped sharply to a reading of 14 for January from a level of 34 in the month before, while UK car production levels increased 3.1 per cent last year to their highest level in five years. The FTSE 100 closed down 53.05 points at 6,773.28.

1616: Carney has told the BBC that there is “no immediate need to increase interest rates”.

1501: The European Commission’s consumer confidence gauge for the Eurozone rose to a 30-month high of -11.7 for the month of January, versus the previous month’s reading of -13.5 (consensus: -13.0). “Nevertheless, it still seems unrealistic to expect anything better than gradual improvement in consumer spending across the Eurozone in the near term at least as the economic fundamentals remain challenging for consumers in many countries”, Dr. Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight said in response to the data.

1500: Existing home sales in the US fell to an annualised rate of 4.87m in December (consensus: 4.93m). The previous month’s estimate was revised lower to show 4.82m instead of the 4.9m initially estimated.

1420: Analysts at Credit Suisse (NYSE: CS – news) wrote today to clients explaining that they remain concerned about the amount of capital which BP (LSE: BP.L – news) has left to pay for the legal expenses incurred as a result of the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which has weighed on its pace of investments. Hence, the recent improvement is linked to lager volumes out of the Gulf. Eventually the quality of its growth should return to normal but this may take time. FTSE 100 down 18 to 6,808.

1331: To take into account, speaking last night the MPC’s Ian McCafferty indicated that the central bank is watching movements in foreign exchange markets. Nevertheless, he did add that: “If it rose sharply from here it’s something that we will study further (…) It’s still trading at the top of the range after the depreciation in 2007. It’s still competitive.”

1330: Initial US weekly unemployment claims edged higher by 1,000 to reach 326,000 (consensus: 330,000).

1234: African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG.L – news) is now bumping up against technical resistance around the 215p area again.

1155: Raising interest rates before “a lot more slack” in the job market has been eliminated would risk condemning the British economy to an unnecessarily weak recovery,” writes Capital Economics’ Samuel Toombs today. Perhaps, but Citi now expects the MPC to carry out its first rise in rates in the final quarter of 2014 instead of in the first quarter of 2015 as up until now. FTSE 100 down 20 to 6,806.

1105: Shares of Nokia (Stockholm: NOKI-SEK.ST – news) are dropping sharply after unveiling much weaker than expected quarterly revenues of 3.5bn euros.

1100: The CBI’s distributive trades sales index fell to the 14 point mark in January, versus a reading of 34 in the previous month (consensus: 25).

0954: The BoE’s Paul Fisher believes that “we are still some way off the point where it is appropriate to start raising Bank Rate and that when it is time, it would be appropriate to do so only gradually.”

0936: Ahead of the OFWAT review next Monday analysts at Credit Suisse have nudged their price targets on shares of United Utilities (LSE: UU.L – news) (to 680p from 660p) and Pennon (to 630p from 610p) higher, albeit while at the same time downgrading their stance on Severn Trent (Other OTC: STRNY – news) to ‘underperform’ from ‘neutral’.

0849: The so-called “flash” Purchasing Managers’ Index for Germany’s manufacturing sector rose to 56.3 for January, following a print of 54.3 in the month before (consensus: 54.6). In an immediate reaction the euro/dollar has snapped higher, moving towards 1.3626, for an 0.6 per cent rise.

0841: Shares of Asos (Other OTC: ASOMF – news) are getting whacked on the heels of a downgrade out of Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS-PB – news) to ‘neutral’ from ‘buy’.

0832: The Footsie has begun the session slightly in the blue despite weak Chinese manufacturing data out overnight. Leading the rise are utility stocks, oddly enough, while shares of easyJet and Pearson are taking a hit following the release of their most recent trading updates. Admiral is also under the weather, following the last few sessions’ gains. Marks&Spencer is benefitting early on from a recommendation upgrade out of broker Exane. FTE 100 up 4 to 6,830.

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