Market overview: FTSE closes up 11 at 6,810

LONDON (ShareCast) – 1630: Close After a jam-packed day, the FTSE finished slightly higher, helped by strong results out from Capita (LSE: CPI.L – news) and Whitbread (LSE: WTB.L – news) . It was confirmed by the ONS today that the UK economy grew at a 0.7 per cent rate in the final three months of 2013, as had been previously estimated. In the US, jobless claims increased by 14,000 to 348,000 in the week ended February 22nd, from 334,000 in the prior period. Economists had expected 335,000 claims. In Germany, the number of people unemployed fell by 14,000 compared to expectations of 10,000. The FTSE 100 finished 11.12 points higher at 6,810.27.

1617: The Footsie is repeating the pattern to trading which has become familiar over the last few sessions, weakness in the morning followed by a recovery going into the close.

1616: Barclays (LSE: BARC.L – news) revised Eurozone February CPI forecast to 0.6 per cent year-on-year from 0.7 per cent, but notes that their estimate is close to the rounding off point.

1615: Numis sees scope for “substantial special dividends (potentially taking the total payout ratio to as much as 80-90 per cent),” at Jupiter Fund Management “should no major investment opportunities emerge.”

1614: “The rapid growth in China’s US dollar borrowing has now exceeded that in 2008. In commodity strategy, we believe this combines with domestic funding issues to present a substantial downside risk to commodities demand. The depreciation of the renminbi over the past week suggests that pressure may be building. We remain cautious on the industrial miners and continue to favour self-help stories; companies that can cut capex and raise free cashflow; Rios and BHP,” says UBS (Xetra: UB0BL6 – news) .

1452: “We continue to like the story, this is a best in class operator but the valuation tempers our enthusiasm. We reiterate our ‘hold’ but lift our multiples-based price target to 1100p,” Investec (LSE: INVP.L – news) concluded.

1336: US durable goods orders dropped by 1 per cent over the month in January (consensus: -1.7 per cent), while the previous month’s figures were revised lower to show a drop of -5.3 per cent versus the preliminary estimate of -4.3 per cent). However, if orders from the transportation are excluded then the data show reveal a 1.1 per cent rise for January, well above the -0.3 per cent forecast.

1248: Shares of Plus 500 are down sharply after the founders place 200m shares at 500p through Liberum.

1242: Shares of Kazhakmys have spiked higher by 22 per cent after announcing a restructuring plan. JP Morgan (Other OTC: JPYYL – news) has upgraded the shares to ‘overweight’ from ‘underweight’.

1222: Following today’s consumer price out in Germany a move lower in the Eurozone CPI release, tomorrow, to a 0.6 per cent year-on-year pace for February (from 0.8 per cent in January) is now more likely, says Barclays Research.

1220: Allianz dropped as Europe’s largest insurer posted fourth quarter earnings that fell short of market forecasts and said operating profit may decline this year amid low interest rates.

1158: Analysts at Numis have downgraded their view on shares of RSA to ‘reduce’ from ‘neutral’, telling clients that the firm’s target for returns on net trading assets (RONTA) is insufficient to support the current share price. JP Morgan has lowered its target on the insurer’s shares to 94p from 109p.

1130: Shares of hedge fund manager Man Group (Other OTC: MNGPF – news) are jumping higher by 11 per cent after unveiling a 115m dollar stock buy-back programme. Its funds saw 700m dollars of inflows during the fourth quarter. It is the biggest gainer at the moment on the Stoxx 600. FTSE 100 down 57 to 6,742.

1050: HSBC’s indirect wholly-owned subsidiary, HSBC Bank Middle East, has confirmed that it is in discussions with Meezan Bank about the possible sale of its Pakistani operations. The FTSE 100 banking giant said the discussions were at a preliminary stage and “may or may not lead to a sale”. The FTSE 100 is 61 points lower at 6,738.

0937: Some reports indicate Crimean parliament was occupied overnight by gunmen. Lawmakers have apparently entered and some think a vote on the status of the Crimean peninsula – where the main Russian naval base in the region is located – might take place. Interfax has reported ex-Prime Minister Yanukovich as saying new Ukrainian parliament is not legitimate.

0855: German unemployment dropped by 14,000 in February (consensus: -10,000).

0854: Stocks have begun the session moving slightly higher, with Capita, Whitbread, Reed Elsevier (Frankfurt: RDEB.F – news) and British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS.L – news) in the lead early on following the release of their finals for 2013. RBS (LSE: RBS.L – news) and WPP (Other OTC: WPPGF – news) are now at the bottom of the pile. The former unveiled an operating loss of 8.2bn pounds this morning (consensus: 6.7bn pounds). The first price from Germany for the month of February has come out. Consumer prices in the region of Saxony eased lower to a 1.2 per cent year-on-year pace, from 1.4 per cent in the previous month. The single currency ‘ticked’ lower in reaction to that. Overnight US and Chinese stocks finished higher. To take note of, the President of the Boston Fed reportedly indicated that the pace of tapering might be adjustable depending on economic developments. Putin has reportedly ordered fighter jets crews in the territories adjacent to Ukraine to be put on combat alert. FTSE 100 up 3 to 6,802.

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