The Footsie held on to moderate gains by lunchtime as the Bank of England announced further stimulus measures to boost the UK economy. Earlier optimism over a draft Greek deal seems to have now faded as the markets began to pick holes in the incomplete agreement.
The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) took the market's attention away from Greece for a brief moment at midday, as it decided to boost its quantitative easing programme by £50bn to £325bn, as expected. The MPC also left its lending rate unchanged at 0.5%.
"In the light of its most recent economic projections, the Committee judged that the weak near-term growth outlook and associated downward pressure from economic slack meant that, without further monetary stimulus, it was more likely than not that inflation would undershoot the 2% target in the medium term. The Committee therefore voted to increase the size of its programme of asset purchases," the statement said.
Greek politicians were unable to close the deal last night leaving a €300m shortfall in its deficit reduction plan due to disagreement over pension cuts. Final approval of the budget cuts must be obtained from the Troika (IMF, ECB and UE) in order for Greek to receive a second €130bn financing package. Despite not having achieved the pension reform required as part of the budget cuts, Greek daily ekathimerini reports that the Troika will give Greece 15 days to find an alternative.
A German official stated the obvious this morning when he assured Reuters that the Eurogroup won't be able to approve Greece's bailout and bond swap at this evening's meeting simply because the groundwork is still not ready: "there will be no decision because there is no basis for it yet," the official told the news agency.
Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker has called a meeting this evening at 17:00 with the Eurozone's finance ministers and the IMF managing director Christine Lagarde to examine Athens' progress on the austerity measures.
BG LEADS OIL STOCKS HIGHER
BG Group was among the risers after higher oil prices helped earnings before tax shoot up by 40% on last year in the fourth quarter. The group also gave a confident outlook for the LNG market, hiking its LNG profit guidance by 30% for 2012. Sector peers BP, Cairn Energy, Tullow Oil and Essar Energy were also in demand, buoyed by today's rise in brent crude prices.
SABMiller was also higher after the brewing company announced it would invest $80m in a new brewery for its Ugandan subsidiary, Nile Breweries.
Property group British Land was the worst performer despite seeing occupancy, income, estimated rental value and underlying profits rise in the third quarter.
Sweeteners manufacturer Tate & Lyle fell after reporting a mixed performance in the third quarter with subdued volume growth in several divisions. The firm, nevertheless, said its remains on track for a "good performance" in the full-year.
Rolls-Royce was out of favour despite 2011 being a record-breaking year on many fronts. The power systems developer saw underlying profit before tax rose 21%, while underlying revenue edged up 4%.
Drinks giant Diageo fell after reporting flat volumes in its North American and European divisions in the first half ended December 31st. Net sales rose by 8% however as strong growth in emerging markets helped offset slower growth elsewhere.
Mining giant Rio Tinto slipped after saying that full-year net earnings were held back by a massive $8.9bn impairment charge relating to its aluminium business. Nevertheless, underlying earnings rose 11% to a record $15.5bn.
SVG AND CATLIN RISE ON THE FTSE 250
SVG Capital, the private equity investor which owns Hugo Boss and Birds Eye frozen food firm iglo, jumped 8% after seeing a 10.9% rise in its net asset value (NAV). The movement has been driven by a significant increase in the valuation of Hugo Boss, which rose £96.1m between 2010 and 2011 on the back of improved earnings. Iglo jumped £18.1m.
Meanwhile, Bermuda-based insurance underwriter Catlin was performing well after gross premiums written climbed to $4.51bn from $4.07bn the year before, while net premiums written advanced to $3.84bn from $3.32bn. Meanwhile, net income before tax slumped to $71m in 2011 from $406m the year before.
Private equity firm SVG Capital unveiled a 13 per cent increase in net asset value (NAV) to 443p for the first three months of the year buoyed by strong performance of its investment partner Permira. [25 Apr '13]
The FTSE 100 had picked up off its intraday low by the end of the session on Thursday, but a barrage of worse-than-expected economic growth figures from across the globe ensured that markets remained in negative territory. [14 Feb '13]
Bumi plc shares tumbled as co-founders of the coal miner financier Nathanial Rothschild and the Bakrie Group continued to butt heads over fate of the business. Shareholders are meeting next Thursday to vote on a proposal by Rothschild to replace members of the board. Furthermore, overnight shares of PT Bumi Resources rose to the highest in more than four months, rocketing higher by 26 per cent in Jakarta trading, after it requested a takeover panel to expedite inquiry into t [14 Feb '13]
African Barrick Gold: Deutsche Bank cuts target price from 410p to 340p, while staying with its hold recommendation. Investec reduces target price from 405p to 315p and downgrades from buy to hold. JP Morgan lowers target price from 370p to 290p and downgrades to underweight. [14 Feb '13]
SVG, the FTSE 250 private equity investor, has completed a fully underwritten placement of its remaining shares in Galaxy Entertainment Group, the Hong Kong listed casino and hotel operator. [8 Nov '12]
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