LONDON (SHARECAST) - 1630:Close The UK economy came out of recession in the third quarter, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said today. Its survey of 7,593 UK firms showed the economy grew by 0.5% between July and September, following three consecutive quarters of contraction. Meanwhile, the Nationwide building society said today that house prices are set to remain flat or see a modest decline over the next year, with its House Price Index showing that the price of a 'typical' UK house declined by 0.4% month-on-month in September, worse than had been expected. Elsewhere, the UK construction sector purchasing managers’ index for September came in at 49.5 points, versus the previous month’s reading of 49. The consensus estimate had been for an increase to 49.8, while the long-run series average comes in at 54.2. IAG led gainers on the top share index on speculation that Qatar Airways is to join the One World Alliance. The FTSE closed down 11 points at 5,809.
16:01: Ratings agency Moodys says that it will decide this month whether it downgrades Spain's sovereign bonds rating to junk, or not.
1511: Bank of Georgia Holdings is now leading the falls on the FTSE 350 following the surprise upset at today's Presidential elections in Georgia by the Georgian Dream Party, led by Mr. Ivanishvili. Nevertheless, write analysts at Seymour Pierce today: "At the current price the shares trade on just 5.3 times estimated fiscal year 2012 earnings and 1.2 times price-to-tangible book value. We understand that investors may want further reassurance but we believe that the shares at these price levels represent a buying opportunity." FTSE down 8 to 5,813.
1429: The Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways is reportedly saying that his airline has not joined the One World Alliance. Markets are holding up despite a report citing Spain's Prime Minister as having said that he will not ask for a rescue this weekend.
1137: An analyst at Davy's speaking on Bloomberg TV is saying that he prefers shares of St.Gobain to those of Wolseley, which he is recommending investors take profits on if they were lucky enough to get in early. He highlights that investors often erroneously assign too much weight to Wolseley's usefulness as a play on US new home construction, due to the high correlation between that and its share price. FTSE 100 up 15 to 5,835.
1058: PT Bumi Resources, 29 per cent owned by Bumi Plc, said last night that it will raise cash from non-core assets to accelerate debt repayment. Shares of London listed Bumi Plc are now leading gains on the FTSE 350. Also worth mentioning, there are reports now coming out of Spain suggesting that the country will finally not ask for further aid this next weekend, a possibility which some market commentary seemed to be pointing to this morning.
1027: AstraZeneca is providing a drag on the FTSE 100 this morning, one day after the firm suspended its 4.5bn-pound share repurchase programme. Credit Suisse today cut its forecasts for the pharma group as a result of yesterday's revelation. 'We believe today will likely mark the start of further EPS downgrades at AZN […] With limited pipeline, patent losses, uncertainly over whether the slimmed down group has the firepower to market new drugs, and how they can restock their portfolio we reiterate our 'underperform' rating,' the broker said. Shares are down 0.2 per cent.
1014: Qatar Airways is to join the One World Alliance, of which IAG is a member, according to press reports.
0930: Markit's construction sector purchasing managers' index for the month of September has come in at 49.5, versus 49 for the previous month (Consensus: 49.8). UBS has downgraded Lloyds, RBS and Barclays to neutral from buy.
0927: Interesting insight from Nationwide's Chief Economist, Robert Gardner, this morning: “However, labour market developments will remain of paramount importance in deciding the trajectory of house prices. There are grounds for caution on this front, as the unusual combination of rising employment and declining economic activity that was evident in the first half of 2012 is unlikely to be sustained." FTSE 100 down 11 to 5,810.
0808: Plumbers' merchant Wolseley found the market hard to please. Despite announcing a 40p special dividend, the shares are down in the early going. The special dividend was foreseen by the markets and may have already been reflected in the share price, while there may have been some disappointment that revenue growth rates in the new financial year are no better than they were in the fourth quarter. Weighing on stocks, and acting as a backdrop, are the reports that Spain is ready to request a Eurozone bailout as early as next weekend but Germany has signalled that it should hold off. UK House prices fell by 0.4% month-on-month in September (Consensus: 0%). FTSE 100 is down 34 at 5,787.