LONDON (ShareCast) - 1630: UK stocks edged higher on Friday on the back of positive remarks from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who threw her weight behind Mario Draghi's (the President of the European Central Bank) proposal of buying sovereign debt in order to bring down bond yields in indebted countries such as Spain and Italy. Meanwhile, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja was busy warning listeners that countries within the euro area should be preparing for a break-up of the single-currency region. Elsewhere, Oliver Wallin, the Investment Director at Octopus Investments, said this morning that global equities have been fairly flat this week due to little meaningful news flow for investors to "sink their teeth into". The FTSE closed up 18 points at 5,852.
1418: US indices are set to open more or less unchanged, which is pretty much the situation in the afternoon session in London, where the Footsie has traded all day in a narrow range from 5,834 to 5,855. It is currently towards the bottom end of that range, at 5,838, up 4. Banks are buoyed by developments in the Eurozone, where a Spanish bailout seems imminent, but mining stocks are weighing down the index.
1127: The Footsie continues to trade within a narrow range this morning, with just 19 points separating the intraday high and low. Currently, the index stands 11 points higher at 5,845. The mood has been lifted this morning by comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who threw her weight behind Mario Draghi's proposal of buying sovereign debt in order to bring down bond yields in indebted countries such as Spain and Italy. The news has lifted banking stocks across Europe this morning with UK-listed peers Lloyds, RBS and Barclays on the up. Mining stocks are a weak spot with Anglo American, ENRC and Rio Tinto registering losses.
0928: The FTSE 100 has pared gains, trading just nine points higher at 5,843, coming off its earlier high of 5,851. Water group Pennon is among the worst performers on the Footsie today after saying that trading at its waste management unit Viridor has been significantly below the high level of the first half of the previous fiscal year with recyclate prices remaining under pressure. The stock was downgraded by HSBC to 'neutral' this morning. Meanwhile, Lonmin continues to lead the fallers on the FTSE 250 after a police minister said on South African radio that the death toll at its Markiana mine has reached 35.
0810: Leading equities are modestly firmer but trading is overshadowed by the tragic events overnight which saw South African police open fire on striking miners at Lonmin's operations at Marikana in South Africa. Fighting between rival labour unions at the site had already claimed the lives of eight Lonmin employees and two policemen over the past few days, but now the death toll has escalated, with dozens more people killed, according to newspaper reports. Lonmin is sharply lower in early trading. Yesterday it said it welcomed the increased presence of South African security forces at the mine, where production has been interrupted at great cost to the company. Lonmin's position is that the incidents have been a police matter, not an industrial issue. FTSE 100 is up 6 at 5,841.