London close: Flat finish for FTSE as data heavy session

LONDON (ShareCast) – – FTSE closes flat, down 28 points on the week
– Feb UK house prices climb
– UK consumer confidence at six-year high
– Eurozone’s unemployment unchanged at 12 per cent

techMARK 2,904.71 +0.09%
FTSE 100 6,809.70 -0.01%
FTSE 250 16,726.00 +1.23%

UK stocks ended the final session of the week flat as investors weighed a mix of corporate earnings with numerous data releases out from both home and abroad.

The FTSE 100 index ended the session just 0.57 points lower at 6,809.70, down 28.36 points on the week.

UK house prices gain in February, Nationwide (LSE: CCDS.L – news) reveals

UK house prices edged higher in February as demand continued to outstrip the pace of supply, data revealed.

Nationwide‘s house price index, based on the value of the new mortgages it provides each month, grew 0.6% on the month and by 9.4% on the year. The average price of homes came to £177,836 this month, marking the highest annual gain since May 2010.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s Chief Economist, said demand has also been bolstered by record low interest rates and rising consumer confidence, “thanks to the healthy gains in employment recorded in recent quarters”.

UK consumer confidence remains at six-year high

UK consumer confidence remained at its highest level since 2007, according to the latest GfK (Frankfurt: GFK.F – news) /NOP survey, with British householder sentiment on economic prospects strong, but moderating in terms of major consumer expenditure.

The main consumer confidence index stayed unchanged at -7.

Barclays Research said the survey’s findings “confirmed our view that retails sales should continue to grow, supported by easing price pressures and slowly rising earnings growth”.

Eurozone unemployment rate will not fall until Q4, say analysts

The Eurozone’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 12% for the month of January, data from Eurostat revealed today, matching the analyst consensus forecast.

Weighing in on the data, analysts at Barclays Research expect the stabilisation of labour markets to continue in 2014, with the Eurozone’s unemployment rate only starting to fall in the fourth quarter. In January, increases in the unemployment rates in France, Italy, and Netherlands were offset by declines in Germany, Ireland (Other OTC: IRLD – news) , and Spain.

Over in Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych has vowed to fight for the country as he spoke in Russia in his first public appearance since being ousted as President last week. He insisted he was “not overthrown”, but was compelled to leave Ukraine after threats to his life.

His remarks came as Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov earlier accused Russia of carrying out an invasion in Crimea after armed men took over Sevastopol and Simferopol airports. Russia denies the allegations.

US fourth quarter GDP revisions slightly below expectations

US real gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at an annualised pace of 2.4% during the last three months of 2013 according to the US Department of Commerce, well below the preliminary estimate for growth of 3.2%.

The consensus estimate had been for a gain of 2.5%.

Old Mutual (Other OTC: ODMTY – news) leads risers as Pearson (NYSE: PSO – news) holds onto bottom spot

Financial services group Old Mutual climbed after revealing that its underlying activities had performed strongly in 2013. Old Mutual, which owns pension provider Skandia, unveiled adjusted operating profit of £1.6bn, similar to last year in reported currency but up 15% at constant currency.

William Hill (Other OTC: WIMHF – news) also moved higher despite the fact its annual pre-tax profit fell six per cent to £257m as the gaming company invested heavily in it its online offering. In an effort to keep up with the growing online market, with consumers opting to gamble on tables, computers and smartphones, the company launched mobile in new markets and took over full control of William Hill Online.

Mondi Group, the international packaging and paper company, delivered a strong rise in annual pre-tax profit, driven by low costs and exposure to higher growth markets. On a 12% rise in revenue to €6,476m, pre-tax profit leapt 36% from €368m to €499m. Basic earnings per share rose from 50.1 cents to 79.8 cents.

Meanwhile, lower margins in North America and the merger between publishing houses Penguin (SES: E1:P13.SI – news) and Random House pushed full-year operating profits at Pearson 6% lower to £871m as the company warned of a further hit on earnings in 2014. The Financial Times publisher company said 2014 earnings per share at current exchange rates would be 62p to 67p as the pound strengthened against the dollar, adding that another £50m in restructuring costs would have to be set aside. Investec (LSE: INVP.L – news) said the group’s outlook once again disappointed, and put its price target under review.

Ruper Soames, the Chief Executive Officer of Aggreko (LSE: AGK.L – news) , has announced his plan to step down from the group to take up the same role at Serco Group (Other OTC: SECCF – news) . After 11 years at the helm, he is due to leave the company on April 24th.

The owner of British Airways and Iberia, International Airlines Group, fell sharply despite hailing the success of its turnaround strategy as it reported annual operating profit of €770m against losses of €23m a year ago.

FTSE 100 – Risers
William Hill (WMH) 397.60p +6.08%
Mondi (Frankfurt: KYC.F – news) (MNDI) 1,096.00p +5.89%
Old Mutual (OML) 197.10p +5.85%
Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW.L – news) (TLW) 799.00p +4.51%
Hargreaves Lansdown (LSE: HL.L – news) (HL.) 1,397.00p +3.48%
Weir Group (Frankfurt: 42W.F – news) (WEIR) 2,567.00p +2.15%
Standard Life (LSE: SL.L – news) (SL.) 390.00p +2.15%
Whitbread (Frankfurt: WHF4.F – news) (WTB) 4,487.00p +2.05%
ARM Holdings (LSE: ARM.L – news) (ARM) 1,010.00p +1.81%
WPP (Frankfurt: 0WP.F – news) (WPP (Other OTC: WPPGF – news) ) 1,308.00p +1.79%

FTSE 100 – Fallers
Pearson (Dusseldorf: PES.DU – news) (PSON) 1,013.00p -5.86%
Aggreko (Dusseldorf: 4A4A.DU – news) (AGK) 1,560.00p -4.29%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 437.00p -3.28%
Shire Plc (LSE: SHP.L – news) (SHP) 3,320.00p -2.78%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,747.00p -2.45%
Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO.L – news) (ANTO) 900.50p -2.28%
Carnival (Berlin: CVC1.BE – news) (CCL) 2,463.00p -1.79%
Experian (EUREX: EXPF.EX – news) (EXPN) 1,081.00p -1.55%
Capita (Frankfurt: A0MZ15 – news) (CPI (Other OTC: CPICQ – news) ) 1,140.00p -1.55%
SSE (Berlin: SCT.BE – news) (SSE (LSE: SSE.L – news) ) 1,403.00p -1.54%

FTSE 250 – Risers
Serco Group (SRP) 460.50p +12.10%
Electra Private Equity (ELTA) 2,750.00p +10.00%
Man Group (Other OTC: MNGPF – news) (EMG) 103.70p +7.91%
Renishaw (Frankfurt: REW.F – news) (RSW) 2,162.00p +6.98%
Soco International (LSE: SIA.L – news) (SIA (SES: C6L.SI – news) ) 474.80p +5.86%
Interserve (Frankfurt: I5S.F – news) (IRV) 607.50p +5.74%
Redrow (RDW) 341.80p +5.53%
Berendsen (LSE: BRSN.L – news) (BRSN) 1,047.00p +5.44%
Elementis (ELM) 288.20p +5.34%
Rentokil Initial (LSE: RTO.L – news) (RTO) 133.10p +5.22%

FTSE 250 – Fallers
Ferrexpo (Frankfurt: FEX.F – news) (FXPO) 153.00p -6.59%
Laird (LRD) 314.50p -4.41%
African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG.L – news) (ABG) 281.20p -3.67%
Oxford Instruments (LSE: OXIG.L – news) (OXIG) 1,439.00p -2.84%
Polymetal International (POLY) 633.50p -2.54%
Vedanta Resources (Other OTC: VDNRF – news) (VED) 845.00p -1.80%
Spirent Communications (Other OTC: SPMYY – news) (SPT (Taiwan OTC: 8431.TWO – news) ) 105.00p -1.59%
JD Sports Fashion (LSE: JD.L – news) (JD.) 1,562.00p -1.58%
Ocado Group (Other OTC: OCDGF – news) (OCDO) 562.50p -1.57%
Kazakhmys (Frankfurt: A0HFWR – news) (KAZ) 305.40p -1.48%

NR

Ftse Futures

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