London open: Stocks rise ahead of US debt-ceiling vote

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LONDON (ShareCast) - Well-received earnings from some Wall-Street heavyweights were boosting market sentiment on Wednesday morning, with London's FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) making moderate gains early on.

Both Google (NasdaqGS: GOOG - news) and IBM (NYSE: IBM - news) impressed the US market late last night with better-than-expected fourth-quarter results. Markets will likely be keeping a close eye on results from McDonald's and Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL - news) later on.

However, the focus the market today is likely to be the US House of Representatives vote on whether to extend the government's debt ceiling until May 19th. A White House spokesman said that President Barack Obama "won't stand in the way" of this short-term fix.

Also on the agenda today will be the release of the minutes of the latest Bank of England policy meeting. They are expected to show a unanimous vote against further quantitative easing and a rate cut.

Nevertheless, as market analyst James Hughes from Alpari explains this morning: "The vote next month is unlikely to be this straightforward with data released Friday expected to show the UK contracted in the fourth quarter, raising the risk of a third recession in four years.

"One thing we could get from the minutes is whether any members were leaning towards further stimulus in the January meeting. This would raise the probability of further stimulus next month and could push the pound lower against the other major currencies, while further supporting the FTSE 100."

FTSE 100: TUI Travel (LSE: TT.L - news) falls after TUI (Xetra: TUAG00 - news) quashes bid speculation

Travel and leisure group TUI Travel was a heavy faller this morning after its Germany parent company TUI AG said it has no intention of making an offer. TUI Travel said last week that it had received an approach from TUI AG, which owns a 56.4% stake in the firm.

Utilities group SSE (LSE: SSE.L - news) and contract caterer Compass (LSE: CPG.L - news) were also in the red after going ex-dividend this morning.

Consumer products (Other OTC: CPSV - news) titan Unilever (NYSE: UL - news) was on the rise after double-digit growth in emerging markets helped push its turnover past the €50bn-mark in 2012. Revenue growth was 10.5% last year.

Real estate investment trust Land Securities (LSE: LAND.L - news) rose after saying that the third quarter saw a "strong operating performance across out investment portfolio".

Business software firm Sage however was subdued after an in-line trading statement. The group said that revenue trends had varied across its geographies, with good growth seen in the UK and Ireland (OTC BB: IRLD - news) and challenging conditions noted in mainland Europe.

Diversified mining giant BHP Billiton (NYSE: BBL - news) was wanted after saying it expects to deliver a compound annual growth rate of 10% in copper equivalent terms over the next two years.

FTSE 250 (FTSE: ^FTMC - news) : EnQuest (LSE: ENQ.L - news) up after acquisition

Oil and gas group EnQuest was in demand after agreeing with CIECO Energy UK to acquire two of its affiliate companies which together hold a total of 8% non-operated interest in the producing oil field Alba.

High Street retailer WH Smith (LSE: SMWH.L - news) edged higher despite reporting a 40% decline in total sales in the 20 weeks to January 20th. However, gross margin improved in the period in line with plan and costs were tightly managed, reflecting the trading conditions, according to the group.


FTSE 100 - Risers
Unilever (ULVR) 2,508.00p +2.33%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 729.00p +1.67%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 6,120.00p +1.66%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 2,106.50p +1.23%
BT Group (LSE: BT-A.L - news) (BT.A) 252.40p +1.08%
Diageo (DGE) 1,855.50p +1.06%
Hammerson (HMSO) 495.10p +1.02%
Severn Trent (LSE: SVT.L - news) (SVT) 1,617.00p +1.00%
Evraz (EVR) 309.90p +0.98%
Rexam (REX) 463.40p +0.96%

FTSE 100 - Fallers
TUI Travel (TT (BSE: TTL.BO - news) .) 280.80p -3.87%
Compass Group (Other OTC: CMPGF - news) (CPG) 745.50p -1.84%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 1,808.00p -1.20%
ITV (ITV (LSE: ITV.L - news) ) 114.10p -1.13%
Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY.L - news) (LLOY) 52.28p -1.02%
Kingfisher (KGF) 270.30p -0.99%
Smiths Group (LSE: SMIN.L - news) (SMIN) 1,226.00p -0.97%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,709.00p -0.93%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 264.80p -0.82%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 209.90p -0.80%

FTSE 250 - Risers
Stobart Group Ltd. (STOB) 100.00p +2.88%
EnQuest (ENQ) 126.70p +1.85%
Bumi (BUMI) 330.00p +1.69%
Rightmove (RMV) 1,626.00p +1.69%
Kenmare Resources (LSE: KMR.L - news) (KMR) 34.56p +1.65%
Centamin (DI (KSE: 003160.KS - news) ) (CEY) 59.00p +1.37%
Betfair Group (BET) 680.00p +1.34%
Computacenter (CCC) 449.50p +1.24%
WH Smith (SMWH) 660.00p +1.23%
Michael Page International (LSE: MPI.L - news) (MPI) 408.90p +1.21%

FTSE 250 - Fallers
Redrow (RDW) 185.00p -3.80%
Taylor Wimpey (LSE: TW.L - news) (TW.) 70.70p -3.48%
Bovis Homes Group (BVS) 609.50p -3.25%
Barratt Developments (LSE: BDEV.L - news) (BDEV) 221.30p -2.34%
Ocado Group (Other OTC: OCDGF - news) (OCDO) 99.05p -1.93%
Savills (SVS) 475.00p -1.86%
Bellway (BWY) 1,088.00p -1.81%
Carillion (CLLN) 312.00p -1.67%
Galliford Try (LSE: GFRD.L - news) (GFRD) 801.50p -1.66%
Man Group (LSE: EMG.L - news) (EMG) 95.00p -1.45%

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