LONDON (ShareCast) – – FTSE 100 at highest since January 24th
– Markets look ahead to speeches from central banker
– Centrica (LSE: CNA.L – news) feeling the heat after Energy Secretary claims

techMARK 2,795.99 +0.20%
FTSE 100 6,579.86 +0.12%
FTSE 250 15,890.35 +0.16%

UK stocks opened higher on Monday morning with the FTSE 100 trading at its highest level in over two weeks as the market tracked a decent performance in Asia overnight and a strong finish on Wall Street on Friday.

In spite of the closely-watched US non-farm payrolls report on Friday coming in well below forecasts for a second month in a row, markets have been reasonably resilient as bargain hunters have stepped in following the correction seen last month.

Stocks in the US, in particular, held up well with the benchmark S&P 500 registering its best two-day rally since October.

London’s Footsie advanced today for the fourth straight session and was up 0.1% at 6,580 within the opening hour; it has not closed above this level since January 24th.

“These minor gains have led many to suggest that the correction seen since the start of the year is over, which is something I’m not fully convinced of yet,” said Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari.

It’s set to be another busy week for financial markets with the focus mostly on central bankers across the globe, as investors await speeches from new Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

Today, however, looks pretty quiet with a shortage of corporate earnings and very little on the macro-economic calendar, except for the Sentix investor confidence index for the Eurozone which is expected to slip from 11.9 to 10.1 in February.

Centrica feeling the heat

British Gas owner Centrica was the heaviest faller this morning after the UK’s Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, raised concerns with profit margins at the country’s largest energy companies. He has urged Ofgem to start an investigation into the sector and made a number of suggestions, including “a break-up of any companies found to have monopoly power to the detriment of the consumer”.

Utilities provider SSE (LSE: SSE.L – news) was also feeling the impact this morning, following Centrica lower.

Insurance group Admiral was in the red after Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS-PB – news) downgraded the stock to ‘neutral’, saying that it sees “limited upside” after the stock’s recent outperformance.

Leading the upside were precious metal miners Fresnillo (Other OTC: FNLPF – news) , Randgold and African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG.L – news) as gold and silver prices edged higher.

Pace (Other OTC: PCMXF – news) was also up after the set-top box firm was upgraded by Barclays Capital to ‘overweight’.

Bermuda-based insurance underwriter Catlin advanced after booking a 27% increase in pre-tax profit for the year to $ 432m to 2013.

FTSE 100 – Risers
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,244.00p +4.10%
Fresnillo (Berlin: FNL.BE – news) (FRES) 810.50p +2.27%
Melrose Industries (Other OTC: MLSPF – news) (MRO) 299.30p +2.12%
ARM Holdings (LSE: ARM.L – news) (ARM) 913.00p +1.90%
Amec (Munich: AQ4.MU – news) (AMEC (Other OTC: AMCBF – news) ) 1,058.00p +1.54%
Aberdeen Asset Management (Other OTC: ABDNF – news) (ADN) 425.50p +1.36%
Barclays (Berlin: BCY.BE – news) (BARC) 274.75p +1.12%
Shire Plc (LSE: SHP.L – news) (SHP) 3,156.00p +1.09%
Schroders (Stuttgart: PYX.SG – news) (SDR) 2,550.00p +1.03%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,464.00p +0.90%

FTSE 100 – Fallers
Centrica (Frankfurt: CENB.F – news) (CNA (SES: E2:5GC.SI – news) ) 304.60p -3.06%
G4S (Copenhagen: G4S.CO – news) (GFS) 230.90p -1.79%
SSE (Berlin: SCT.BE – news) (SSE) 1,336.00p -1.55%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 102.70p -1.44%
Admiral Group (LSE: ADM.L – news) (ADM) 1,402.00p -1.13%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 220.50p -0.68%
HSBC Holdings (HKSE: 0005.HK – news) (HSBA) 623.90p -0.62%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,718.00p -0.58%
GlaxoSmithKline (Frankfurt: GS7.F – news) (GSK) 1,603.50p -0.56%
Smiths Group (Other OTC: SMGKF – news) (SMIN) 1,397.00p -0.43%

FTSE 250 – Risers
Pace (PIC) 371.60p +3.86%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 230.70p +3.18%
Evraz (LSE: EVR.L – news) (EVR) 84.00p +2.31%
Supergroup (Frankfurt: 49S.F – news) (SGP) 1,615.00p +2.22%
Catlin Group Ltd (LSE: CGL.L – news) . (CGL) 551.50p +2.13%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 176.40p +1.79%
JD Sports Fashion (LSE: JD.L – news) (JD.) 1,506.00p +1.76% Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 111.90p +1.54% Group (MONY) 173.10p +1.52%
Close Brothers Group (CBG (Shenzhen: 000009.SZ – news) ) 1,381.00p +1.47%

FTSE 250 – Fallers
Essar Energy (LSE: ESSR.L – news) (ESSR) 56.95p -2.48%
BH Global Ltd. USD Shares (BHGU) 11.5 -2.13%
RPS Group (LSE: RPS.L – news) (RPS) 316.80p -1.61%
Daejan Holdings (LSE: DJAN.L – news) (DJAN) 4,753.00p -1.31%
BH Macro Ltd (Other OTC: BHMDF – news) . EUR Shares (BHME) € 19.35 -1.28%
Genus (GNS) 1,249.00p -1.26%
UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company (UDG) 334.80p -1.06%
Riverstone Energy Limited (RSE) 900.50p -1.04%
NMC Health (LSE: NMC.L – news) (NMC) 470.90p -1.01%
Savills (Other OTC: SVLPF – news) (SVS) 619.00p -0.96%