LONDON (ShareCast) – 1630: Close The FTSE closed today’s session in positive territory despite the heavy weight of the mining sector following the poor data out from China, as well as that of BAE following its weaker outlook for the year ahead. Across the Channel, Eurozone composite PMI failed to impress after falling to 52.7 from 52.9 in February, surprising analysts who had expected a small increase to 53.1. Meanwhile, Japan recorded its biggest trade deficit in history in January. Over in the US, stocks are higher across all three of the main indices. The FTSE 100 closed up 16.28 points at 6,812.99.

1500: The Federal Reserve bank of Philadelphia’s regional manufacturing gauge fell to -6.3 in February from a reading of 9.4 in the month before (consensus: 8).

1422: The MPC’s Martin Weale told SkyNews that the first rise in the bank rate could come before the elections “if average earnings rose more quickly than expected in the coming months”.

1330: US initial weekly unemployment claims slipped by 3,000 last week to reach 336,000 (consensus: 335,000). The Consumer Price Index edged higher by 0.1 per cent over the month in January (consensus: 0.1 per cent). FTSE 100 down 23 to 6,774.

1323: Playtech (LSE: PTEC.L – news) has broken to the upside today, smashing past technical resistance and hitting a new 52-week high at 828p in the process. Canaccord Genuity (Other OTC: CCORF – news) points out the multiples on which the shares are trading (FY14 EV/Ebitda of 11.6x and a PER of 15.6x) but says that it “offers the attractions of technology leadership in a structural growth market, with a substantial net cash position, which we expect to be used to drive value enhancing acquisitions.”

1318: UBS (Xetra: UB0BL6 – news) has raised its one-month forecast for the price of gold to 1,280 dollars per ounce from 1,180 dollars. Gold is seen possibly averaging 1,300 dollars this year, instead of the 1,200 dollars previously seen. FTSE 100 down 24 to 6,772.

1142: Analysts at Investec (LSE: INVP.L – news) are taking much the same tack on BAE Systems (LSE: BA.L – news) as Jefferies, pointing out the improvement seen in the company’s net debt position and reduction in the pension deficit. They further point out the potential for an acceleration in the pace of share repurchases.

1115: Just a snippet (or an oddity) here, albeit nevertheless just about as hard to believe. “The only advanced economy with rising inflation, albeit from a very low level, is Japan,” Morgan Stanley (Berlin: DWD.BE – news) points out today in a note.

1100: The CBI’s Industrial Trends total orders index edged higher to a reading of 3 in February from -2 in the month before (consensus: 6).

0948: The Eurozone composite PMI fell to 52.7 in February from 52.9 the month before, surprising analysts who had expected a small pick-up to 53.1. Weakness in was the main reason for the ‘miss’, outweighed stronger growth in Germany. The FTSE 100 is down 33.26 at 6,763.45.

0845: UK stocks have started the day on the downside in reaction to the overnight slide on Wall Street and the decision by China’s central bank (PBoC) to carry out another operation to drain liquidity from the banking system. Losses Stateside seem to have been a result of some references in the Fed minutes to the possible need to raise rates before year-end. It was a minority view but that may have unnerved some investors. A moderation in the pace of ‘tapering’ also seems to be off the table, at least for the time being. To be pointed out, short-term lending rates actually fell in China, following the PBoC’s decisions, which in the end (long-term) would seem to be a ‘positive’ for markets. Shares of BAE Systems crashed following the company’s weaker than forecast guidance for 2014. Jefferies expects the negative share price reaction to be a relatively short-lived affair. FTSE 100 down 39 to 6,757.