LONDON (ShareCast) – 16:00 The FTSE is set to finish higher on the week led by minding stocks which were boosted on hopes of China stimulus. Premier Li Keqiang has urged deepening reforms to address a slowdown in the world’s second largest economy.

15:00 A Bank of England policymaker said the central bank may try to revive the securitised debt market to support the economic recovery. Clara Furse said small firms are have a rough time getting loans amid tighter capital requirements. She said expanding market-based finance, such as raising money by issuing securitised debt, would broaden the funding options for such companies.

1400: US stocks have risen in early trading, after personal spending and incomes increased last month, while markets shrugged off a gauge of consumer confidence that marginally missed expectations. Personal (Other OTC: PRBDF – news) spending increased at a month-on-month rate of 0.3 per cent in February, up from a revised 0.2 per cent rise the month before and in line with analysts’ forecasts. Personal incomes already rose by 0.3 per cent, as expected.

1330: Three month copper futures are moving higher by 1.3 per cent to 6,653 dollars per metric tonne.

1215: US stock futures are gaining ahead of a report that is expected to show an upward revision to consumer confidence in the world’s biggest economy. A final reading for the Thomson Reuters (Frankfurt: TOC.F – news) /University of Michigan index of sentiment is expected to have fallen to 80.5 in March from 81.6 in February, compared with a previous March forecast of 79.9, according to economists. Meanwhile, the FCA’s plans to look into 30m insurance policies sold between the 1970s and 2000 on the back of concerns that they may have contained ‘unfair’ terms continue to push insurance companies sharply lower. The policies are reportedly worth 150bn pounds. The FTSE is up 6.81 points at 6,595.13.

1110: Markets have come off their intraday highs as insurance stocks extend losses. Resolution is now down 11.2 per cent, Phoenix (LSE: PHNX.L – news) has dropped 12.5 per cent, while Aviva (Other OTC: AIVAF – news) and Legal & General (LSE: LGEN.L – news) are trading around five per cent lower. Economic data has also dampened sentiment this morning, showing that the Q4 UK current account deficit was 22.4bn pounds, slightly better than the record 22.8bn pounds in Q3 but much worse than the 13.8bn-pound deficit shortfall expected. The final estimate of Q4 UK GDP growth, meanwhile, was left unrevised at 2.7 per cent. The FTSE 100 is up 14 at 6,602.

0913: Heavy share price falls in the insurance sector are keeping a lid on gains on the FTSE 100 this morning on reports that the Financial Conduct Authority is investigating 30m policies sold by insurers between the 1970s and 2000. Insurance peers Resolution, Legal & General, Aviva, Standard Life (LSE: SL.L – news) , Prudential (HKSE: 2378.HK – news) , Phoenix and Partnership Assurance are all down sharply. The FTSE 100 is up 38 at 6,626.

0845: UK stocks have started the day moderately higher, led by miners, after China┬┤s Premier Li Keqiang said the country has sufficient policy alternatives at its disposal to forestall any excessive slowdown in the economy. As might be expected, basic resource stocks are in the lead early on. Insurers, on the other hand, are under heavy selling pressure. Acting as a backdrop, the lower chamber of the US Congress is preparing further sanctions against Russia, should they be needed. FTSE 100 up 26 to 6,614.