Market overview: FTSE 100 finishes 0.3 per cent higher

LONDON (ShareCast) – 1630: Close The FTSE 100 finished 19.87 points or 0.3 per cent higher at 6,591.55 after a rangebound session. Nevertheless, this was still the index’s highest closing level since January 24th when it reached 6,663.74. “Traders are slowing gaining confidence in equity markets as bullish behaviour returns in the wake of the emerging markets panic sell-off, but there is still a feeling that we are not out of the woods yet,” said David Madden, Market Analyst at IG (LSE: IGG.L – news) .

1611: Analysts are stumped on how they see the Bank of England(BoE (Shenzhen: 000725.SZ – news) ) changing its so-called “forward guidance” policy, according to a Reuters poll. it comes ahead of an expected revamp in the central bank’s guidance this week. A faster-than-expected drop in the unemployment rate towards the seven per cent threshold at which the Bank will consider raising interest rates has put mounting pressure on the central bank to change its guidance. The BoE is anticipated to use the publication on Wednesday of new quarterly economic forecasts to make a verbal commitment to keeping interest rates at their all-time low of 0.5 per cent.

1500: The FTSE 100 was pointing higher, lead by miners as the price of gold rose to a two-week high in the longest rally since August in New York (Frankfurt: HX6.F – news) . Fresnillo (Other OTC: FNLPF – news) and Randgold Resources (Dusseldorf: RGR1.DU – news) were among the big risers.

1318: Markets are continuing to tread water ahead of the opening bell on Wall Street with US stock futures pointing to a weak start after a strong end to last week. S&P 500 futures are trading down 0.3 per cent ahead of the opening bell, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq are both 0.2 per cent lower. Traders have turned cautious ahead of a number of key risk events in the coming days, including a speech by new Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen on Tuesday. “Markets are expected to be quite jumpy as she testifies to the House Financial Services Committee as her words will influence investors’ decisions and could potential cause a frenzy in global markets,” said Sam Fox, Financial Sales Trader at Spreadex. The FTSE 100 is up 5.53 points at 6,577.21, a gain of just 0.1 per cent.

1218: Barclays┬┤ reported profits before tax of 2.9bn pounds have come in 100m pounds ahead of what Investec (LSE: INVP.L – news) was expecting, leading the broker to reaffirm its ‘buy’ recommendation and 305p target.

1111: Barclays (LSE: BARC.L – news) has extended gains despite releasing a one-sentence statement this morning which says that adjusted profit before tax for 2013 will be 5.2bn pounds. The update, which comes ahead of its results tomorrow morning, shows that adjusted earnings have fallen by around a quarter from 2012. According to reports, the company-compiled consensus forecast currently points to an adjusted profit before tax of 5.4bn pounds. The FTSE 100 is up 6.21 points at 6,577.89.

1032: Analysts at Panmure Gordon have downgraded G4S (LSE: GFS.L – news) to ‘sell’ from ‘hold’ and their price target to 200p from 275p.

1028: Shares of Pace (Other OTC: PCMXF – news) continue to advance and are this morning leaving behind their recent highs.

1020: Credit Suisse (NYSE: CS – news) estimates that the consensus has yet to factor in currency headwinds from strenth in sterling into their 2014 revenue forecasts for UK capital goods manufacturers such as GKN (LSE: GKN.L – news) , Senior, Spirax Sarco and Weir Group (Frankfurt: 42W.F – news) .

1012: Shares of Centrica (LSE: CNA.L – news) are at the bottom of the pile following reports that regulators might go as far as studying a ‘break-up’ of its British Gas arm. In that regard, speaking to BBC Radio 4 Today the Energy Secretary Ed Davey has indicated that “it looks like there could be a problem in the domestic gas supply market”. FTSE 100 up 8 to 6,579.

1001: Analysts at Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS-PB – news) have downgraded their view on shares of Admiral to ‘neutral’ from ‘buy’, albeit keeping their price target on the stock unchanged at 1,440p. The basis of their decision is the recent outperformance in the company┬┤s stock versus its peer group. “[…] Admiral shares have risen 19 per cent, outperforming the broader European insurance index by 16%,” Goldman says. Nevertheless, the broker points out that it expects the pricing cycle to turn back up again at the end of 2014.

0845: Shares have started the day moving slightly higher led by gains in precious metals miners, while utility stocks are weighing down on the top flight index. Petrofac (Frankfurt: A0HF9Y – news) is the best performer early on in the Footsie. Analysts at HSBC have upped their view on the stock to ‘overweight’. Out on the FTSE 250 African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG.L – news) is in the lead after the same broker raised its view on it to ‘neutral’. There is little in the way of economic figures due out today. French manufacturing output was flat over the month in December (consensus: 0.3 per cent). FTSE 100 up 3 to 6,575.

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