It is often the case that one year's underperformers in the stock market are the next year's best, but no so year-to-date. Thus, the main high street banks' shares are leading gains today after analysts at UBS pulled out their spread sheets this morning and raised their price targets for the main High Street banks, Lloyds (to 60p from 50p), Barclays (to 315p from 255p) and RBS (to 410p).
That comes in anticipation of an expected improvement in mortgage lending and a reduced need to raise capital after the Basel committee on banking supervision last Sunday eased financial institutions' liquidity requirements.
The result, which has 'read-across' to other countries is that "Britain's experiment of combining fiscal and monetary asterity may be over and the incoming Bank of England governor's openness to monetary policy innovation may not even need to be tested if," as UBS expects, banks return to lending.
On a more realistic note - sombre even - plenty of long-term policy challenges remain.
Thus, in its latest risk assessment the World Economic Forum (WEF) warns that severe income disparities, the indebted state of governments and rising greenhouse gas emissions risk a global "perfect storm" of intertwined financial and ecological collapse.
This is not news really, but public awareness is still a tad limited.
Sainsbury fails to meet lowered expectations
Sainsbury has unveiled a +0.9% like-for-like increase in sales excluding fuel. That was below the 1.0% rose consensus expected, which was already down on the 1.5% rise which analysts had been pencilling in before the New Year.
"We suspect Sainsbury will struggle to outperform in 2013 as Tesco continues its fight back and there is some margin vulnerability as momentum slows," Seymour Pierce analysts said in reaction.
House builder Galliford Try has announced that it remains on track to meet its full year expectations and that half year profit is ahead of its targets.
Designer brand Ted Baker announced a solid rise in sales over the festive period as Chairman Robert Breare confirmed he will step down after more than 11 years in the role. David Bernstein, currently Senior Independent Non-Executive Director, will succeed Breare with immediate effect.
Greggs sees its full year results broadly in line, although 'tough' trading conditions have continued into 2013.
Egypt focused gold producer Centamin (one of yesterday's big gainers) has announced full year production of 262,900 ounces, ahead of the forecasts of 250,000 seen, and up 30%.
Yesterday evening, after the close, Shire's (another one of yesterday's big gainers) Chief Executive Officer stated that he is increasingly confident of reaching double digit full year earnings growth and on meeting current consensus earnings expectations for 2013.
Morgan Stanley downgrades BSkyB
Lastly, analysts at Bank of America have raised their view on shares of GKN and Meggitt to buy.
Morgan Stanley has downgraded British Sky Broadcasting to equalweight from overweight.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 53.59p +5.37%
Meggitt (MGGT) 423.30p +3.37%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 773.00p +3.14%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 346.40p +2.79%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,648.00p +2.58%
Barclays (BARC) 294.00p +2.37%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 827.50p +2.35%
Amec (AMEC) 1,054.00p +2.13%
Shire Plc (SHP) 2,000.00p +1.88%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 164.95p +1.57%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Aviva (AV.) 372.70p -2.41%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 331.50p -2.21%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,130.00p -1.48%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,910.00p -1.39%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,441.00p -1.29%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 782.50p -1.26%
Datafeed and UK data supplied by NETbuilder and Interactive Data.
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