LONDON (ShareCast) - 1630: Close The FTSE closed higher on Wednesday, with gains limited by a poorly performing mining sector, which was hit by another decline in the price of gold. RSA was also a big faller after the firm revealed a cut to its dividend and a change to its auditor. Heading higher was Rexam (LSE: REX.L - news) , which was boosted after the group increased its dividend. Kazhakmys continued losing ground following the recent sharp deterioration in its technical aspect. In economic news, the BoE's Monetary Policy Committee's minutes showed that the central bank was a fair bit more dovish than had been thought, prompting a decline in the pound. The decision to hold the size of its QE programme unchanged at 375bn pounds was decided upon by a margin of six votes in favour to three against. The FTSE 100 closed up 16 points at 6,395.
1415: The FTSE 100 is up 32 points at 6,411 with US stock futures pointing to a slightly higher start on Wall Street when the opening bell rings in 15 minutes' time.
1330: US housing starts fell to an annualised rate of 890,000 in January (Consensus: 920,000). Some commentators believe the break-down of the statistics, however, are not quite as negative.
1317: There is some market chatter now regarding the worsening technical 'picture' for the price of gold, that comes as Fresnillo (Other OTC: FNLPF - news) is sliding towards the bottom of the pile at the moment.
1312: Shares of RBS (LSE: RBS.L - news) are now moving up the leader board despite the rather poor commentary coming out of analysts such as those at Credit Suisse (NYSE: CRP - news) . Ahead of the lender's results on February 28th this is what they are saying "the group has underperformed its UK domestic peers and European banks year-to-date; trading at 0.7 times estimated 2014 tangible net asset value (TNAV) for a 5.8% return on tangible equity (RoTE) (...) RBS remains one of our least preferred name in the space as we continue to think that the group's capital position is limiting a much needed more radical restructuring." Credit Suisse has nonetheless raised its target on the shares to 260p from 250p before. FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) up 26 to 6,405.
1218: US outfit Office Depot (NYSE: ODP - news) is to purchase rival Office Max for 13.5 dollars per share.
1012: Sterling has dropped towards 1.5330 in its cross versus the US dollar following the BoE minutes. Technical support now lies chiefly at the 1.5271/35 level, which is the 50 per cent Fibonacci retracement of the move since 2009 according to Commerzbank (Xetra: 803200 - news) . FTSE 100 up 21 to 6,400.
0931: The Monetary Policy Committee voted 6-3 in favour of increasing the size of the Bank of England's asset purchase program by another 25bn pounds. The vote was expected to have been 8-1 if not 9-0. King and Fisher joined Miles in asking for the above increase. Sterling has reacted with an immediate and sharp drop lower below 1.54 in its cross versus the US dollar.
0930: The claimant count fell by 12,500 in January, ONS data shows versus forecasts for a drop of 7,000.
0911: Shares of Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) have taken a hit following a downgrade out of Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS-PB - news) to neutral from buy. RBS, on the other hand, has seen its price target raised to 260p from 250p at Credit Suisse. To be had in account, Barclays, Carnival (LSE: CCL.L - news) , GlaxoSmithKlline and Reckitt Benckiser (LSE: RB.L - news) all go ex-dividend today. Of interest as well, today's Financial Times comments on insurer RSA's decision to switch its auditor. FTSE 100 up 2 to 6,381.
0900: Italian industrial orders contracted at an 11.5 per cent year-on-year pace in December, an extremely poor showing.
0851: Shares have started the session ever so slightly lower, dragged down by RSA Insurance (LSE: RSA.L - news) 's surprise decision to 're-base' its final dividend by no less than a third. That is dragging on peer Aviva (LSE: AV.L - news) . BHP Billiton (NYSE: BBL - news) is also lower despite having beaten consensus at the operating level, in terms of earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT). As well, analysts at Credit Suisse - at least - seem to have a favourable view of the company's new Chief Executive Officer. At 09:30 the minutes of the last rate setting meeting of the Bank of England will be released. There is the possibility that Mr.Miles may have altered his vote following the latest Inflation report, choosing not to back an increase in the size of the central bank's asset purchase program this time around, Barclays writes. FTSE 100 down 3 to 6,376.