LONDON (SHARECAST) - Markets were slightly lower by Thursday lunchtime as it was announced that the Bank of England (BoE) had kept interest rates unchanged at its latest meeting, however investors were focusing mainly on comments from incoming Governor Mark Carney before the Treasury Select Committee.
techMARK 2,296.24 +0.06%
FTSE 100 6,278.28 -0.27%
FTSE 250 13,347.71 +0.05%
Carney and the BoE
Carney, who is due to replace current BoE Governor Sir Mervyn King later this year, faced his first grilling by MPs today over certain issues, including his pay package, his policies and nominal GDP targeting.
"Carney played down speculation he will make drastic changes to UK monetary policy when he starts his job this summer," explained market strategist Ishaq Siddiqi.
"Importantly, Carney said the BoE will need to design a method to exit QE[quantitative easing] and other forms of non-standard policy measures without undermining the BoE’s reputation and public confidence in the central bank."
At noon, the BoE maintained the Bank Rate at the record-low level of 0.5% and kept the asset purchase programme unchanged at £375bn, as expected.
In a statement, the central bank said: "The Monetary Policy Committee continues to judge that the UK economy is set for a slow but sustained recovery in both demand and effective supply, aided by a further easing in credit conditions – supported by the Bank’s programme of asset purchases and the Funding for Lending Scheme – and some improvement in the global environment. But the risks are weighted to the downside, not least because of the challenges facing the euro area."
In other domestic news, UK industrial production grew by 1.1% month-on-month in December, better than the 0.9% increase forecast.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is also expected to announce at 12:45 that policy makers have decided to hold rates, but the focus will be the following press conference.
"It's looking more and more likely that the bank will cut interest rates at some point over the coming months, but the consensus appears to be that it won't be today. However, it's difficult to see what will be gained by waiting a few extra months, especially with inflation now at 2.0%," said market analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari.
Over in Spain, the Treasury sold €4.6bn of two-, five- and 16-year bonds on the sovereign debt market, surpassing the €3.5-4.5bn target. However, in the first auction since rumours of corruption scandals at the governing People's Party broke out, borrowing rates across all issuances increased. Spanish 10-year yields on the secondary market are now at levels not seen since December.
FTSE 100: Vodafone, TUI and Compass impress with results
Telecoms group Vodafone rose despite posting a 1.8% drop in revenue for the last three months of 2012, blaming difficult market conditions in Europe. However, the company said it expects adjusted operating profit in the upper range of £11.1bn-to-£11.9bn for the 2013 financial year.
Travel and leisure firm TUI Travel gained after reporting a narrower operating loss in the first quarter as it outperformed in the UK and Nordic markets.
Contract caterer Compass was a high riser after having a good first quarter with expectations for the full year unchanged as its North America and emerging market business segments performing strongly.
Burberry sank after the luxury brand named Carol Fairweather, formerly Senior Vice President of Group Finance, as its new CFO.
Medical technology group Smith & Nephew was flat despite beating forecasts in the fourth quarter; however it said that margins are expected to fall in 2013.
FTSE 250: Ocado and SuperGroup surge
Online grocer Ocado jumped after reporting a 13% rise in revenue in 2012, helped by rising demand.
Trendy fashion brand SuperGroup also jumped after unveiling a 12.3% increase in sales for the holiday season as shoppers stocked up on jackets, knitwear and gifting accessories.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Vodafone Group (VOD) 173.95p +2.11%
Compass Group (CPG) 775.00p +1.24%
Amec (AMEC) 1,097.00p +1.11%
TUI Travel (TT.) 306.50p +0.96%
CRH (CRH) 1,327.00p +0.91%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 131.00p +0.85%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,649.00p +0.79%
SABMiller (SAB) 3,184.50p +0.76%
Aviva (AV.) 355.70p +0.76%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 822.00p +0.74%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,365.00p -4.55%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,269.00p -2.23%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 367.70p -2.10%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 6,075.00p -1.78%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 803.00p -1.71%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 405.10p -1.70%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 337.10p -1.46%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,663.00p -1.25%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 51.50p -1.19%
IMI (IMI) 1,185.00p -1.17%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 113.80p +9.53%
Supergroup (SGP) 685.50p +8.21%
Beazley (BEZ) 202.70p +6.46%
IP Group (IPO) 130.70p +4.14%
ITE Group (ITE) 275.90p +3.88%
Bellway (BWY) 1,159.00p +3.30%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 61.40p +3.02%
Marston's (MARS) 136.90p +2.55%
Amlin (AML) 401.40p +2.40%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 802.00p +2.30%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ophir Energy (OPHR) 475.00p -8.57%
Dairy Crest Group (DCG) 410.00p -2.84%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 249.70p -2.19%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 352.50p -1.62%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 409.30p -1.52%
Stobart Group Ltd. (STOB) 97.70p -1.46%
Renishaw (RSW) 1,928.00p -1.38%
Redrow (RDW) 184.10p -1.29%
F&C Asset Management (FCAM) 104.00p -1.23%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 491.30p -1.21%