LONDON (ShareCast) – – FTSE opens marginally higher
– Strong results from Capita (LSE: CPI.L – news) , Whitbread (LSE: WTB.L – news)
– German jobless rate steady at 6.8 per cent

techMARK 2,896.69 -0.10%
FTSE 100 6,803.69 +0.07%
FTSE 250 16,484.09 +0.08%

The FTSE inched into positive territory this morning as strong results from Capita and an upbeat outlook from Whitbread helped lift sentiment and offset poor results from RBS (LSE: RBS.L – news) and a disappointing operating margin from WPP (Other OTC: WPPGF – news) .

The index climbed six points higher to 6,805 early on.

All eyes on Eurozone data

The number of people unemployed in Germany fell 14,000 compared to expectations of 10,000, while jobless claims declined by 28,000, according to the Federal Statistics Office. The jobless rate held steady at 6.8% as expected.

In Spain, the monthly gross domestic product figure came in below expectations with a rise to 0.2%, compared to 0.3% the previous month and expectations of the same figure.

February French consumer confidence declined, falling further below the long-term average of 100 to 85, compared to 86 the previous month.

Yellen to give testimony on monetary policy

Later on in the US attentions will turn to a testimonial from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on monetary policy and the economy.

Yellen has indicated that the Fed will probably continue to scale back monthly asset purchases at each policy until ending it all together later this year. The move has prompted concerns that it might hurt growth in emerging markets.

Today’s testimony, which had been delayed due to bad weather, might provide further clues as to the Fed’s next step ahead of its March policy.

Chief Economist at FXPro, Simon Smith, said the delay “does mean that it’s going to catch more attention that would have otherwise have been the case, given that we have seen a fair amount of and events since her testimony on 11th February”.

He added: “The dollar remains lower overall from that date, but has managed to recover from the mid-month lows and especially yesterday, with further gains being seen against the euro and sterling in early European trading.”

Capita climbs on contract wins and revenue jump

Outsourcing specialist Capita led the upside after it said it had won £588m-worth of new contracts so far in 2014, as it lifted pre-tax profits by 14% to £215m for the 2013 full-year. Revenues rose 15% to £3.85bn and operating profits increased to £516m from £312m in 2102.

Whitbread also rose strongly after revealing it is on track to report full-year results at the top end of expectations. In the 50 weeks to February 13th, the hotels and restaurants saw its like-for-like sales climb 4.0%, driven by its Costa (NasdaqGS: ATX – news) and Premier Inn chains, which rose 5.8% and 4.7%, respectively.

British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS.L – news) was another big riser after it reported a 6% jump in 2013 core earnings to 216.6p per share, in line with analysts’ expectations, as market share grew. The world’s second largest cigarette maker said without the impact of adverse currency movements in three of its four regions it would have reported a 10% rise in earnings to 224.7p.

Meanwhile, advertising giant WPP fell after revealing a stronger pound in the second half of the year in key markets, including Australia, India, japan, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina and Indonesia, lowered reported margins by 0.2 margin points, causing the company to miss its margin target. Significantly, the group said: “All in all, 2014 looks to be another demanding year, as a strong UK pound and weak fast growth market currencies continue to take their toll on our reported operating margins.” For its part, broker Jefferies said the numbers were “good, but probably not good enough”.

Struggling UK insurer RSA was also in the red after it posted annual pre-tax losses of £244m and announced plans to launch a rights issue to raise £775m. RSA, whose shares have suffered since it revealed accounting problems in Ireland (Other OTC: IRLD – news) ripped a big hole in its balance sheet, said it faced an Irish underwriting loss of £220m from management irregularities, reserve strengthening and adverse weather in the fourth quarter.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) fell after reporting its biggest annual loss since the height of the 2008 financial crisis as the lender underwent a major restructuring and paid fines. The state-backed bank reported an operating loss before tax of £8.24bn for the year through December 2013, up from a loss of £5.27bn in 2012, missing analysts’ estimates of £6.7bn.

FTSE 100 – Risers
Capita (Frankfurt: A0MZ15 – news) (CPI (Other OTC: CPICQ – news) ) 1,133.00p +4.42%
Whitbread (Frankfurt: WHF4.F – news) (WTB) 4,363.00p +4.10%
Reed Elsevier (Frankfurt: RDEB.F – news) (REL) 922.00p +1.43%
Tesco (Frankfurt: TS3.F – news) (TSCO) 330.65p +1.43%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,217.00p +1.35%
Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO.L – news) (ANTO) 923.50p +1.32%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 974.00p +1.30%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,365.00p +1.11%
Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW.L – news) (TLW) 775.00p +1.11%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,450.00p +1.05%

FTSE 100 – Fallers
WPP (Frankfurt: 0WP.F – news) (WPP) 1,252.00p -5.94%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 333.00p -5.93%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 98.10p -4.01%
Standard Life (LSE: SL.L – news) (SL.) 376.60p -2.23%
Intertek Group (Other OTC: IKTSF – news) (ITRK) 2,919.00p -1.95%
Group (VOD) 242.45p -1.14%
Travis Perkins (LSE: TPK.L – news) (TPK) 1,905.00p -1.09%
Old Mutual (Other OTC: ODMTY – news) (OML) 185.10p -0.86%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 238.30p -0.83%
Aviva (Berlin: GU8.BE – news) (AV.) 469.30p -0.78%

FTSE 250 – Risers
Kazakhmys (Frankfurt: A0HFWR – news) (KAZ) 283.90p +27.08%
Man Group (Other OTC: MNGPF – news) (EMG) 91.70p +9.04%
Barratt Developments (LSE: BDEV.L – news) (BDEV) 433.10p +5.17%
Spirent Communications (Other OTC: SPMYY – news) (SPT (Taiwan OTC: 8431.TWO – news) ) 110.40p +4.74%
CSR (Frankfurt: GQY.F – news) (CSR (LSE: CSR.L – news) ) 749.50p +4.61%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 416.00p +3.48%
Bodycote (BOY) 720.00p +3.45%
UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company (UDG) 379.70p +2.54%
Howden Joinery Group (HWDN) 381.50p +2.47%
RPS Group (LSE: RPS.L – news) (RPS) 324.00p +2.47%

FTSE 250 – Fallers
BH Global Ltd. USD Shares (BHGU) 11.41 -3.22%
International Personal Finance (LSE: IPF.L – news) (IPF) 544.00p -2.42%
Perform Group (Frankfurt: 8PG.F – news) (PER) 225.00p -2.17%
Fidessa Group (LSE: FDSA.L – news) (FDSA) 2,450.00p -2.16%
Rank Group (RNK) 137.50p -2.14%
Grafton Group Units (GFTU) 644.50p -1.83%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 884.00p -1.72%
Diploma (DPLM) 727.50p -1.69%
Hellermanntyton Group (HTY) 310.70p -1.68%
Tullett Prebon (LSE: TLPR.L – news) (TLPR) 318.10p -1.61%