LONDON (ShareCast) - 1630: Close The FTSE ended the week in positive territory and 48 points higher than last week. Today's trading was boosted by defensive stocks, such as those in the utilities, tobacco and pharmaceuticals categories. In international news, US employment numbers came in above expectations, rising 146,000, well ahead of the 85,000 expected by the consensus. Meanwhile, in Germany the Bundesbank said it now expects just 0.4% growth in the economy next year, down from its previous prediction in June for a 1.6% expansion. The FTSE closed up 13 points at 5,914.
1602: The European Central Bank's governing council member Makuch is being cited as saying that a rate cut is possible in 2013 and that a very serious debate on the subject took place at Thursday's policy meeting. FTSE 100 (FTSE Index: EO100.FGI - news) up 3 to 5,904.
1500: The National Institute of Economic and Social Research's (NIESR) monthly estimate of gross domestic product suggests that output grew by 0.1 per cent in the three months ending in November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) after growth of 0.1 per cent in the three months ending in October 2012. "We do not expect such an anaemic economic performance to continue into next year. Growth is forecast to return in 2013, but not at speeds that will begin to close the UK's negative output gap and bring down the rate of unemployment in that year," the research centre adds.
1445: The University of Michigan consumer confidence index for the month of December has come in at 74.5, after a reading of 82.7 for last month. The consensus estimate was for a reading of 82. The expectations gauge registered its largest fall since March 2011. Intriguingly, Barclays Research points out that: "(...) This will be especially true of high-income households; those with incomes in the top 10% of the distribution saw the largest decline in confidence among income buckets this month. This is unsurprising given that recent discussions of the possibility of a deal have largely revolved around marginal tax rates on upper-income earners."
1330: US non-farm payrolls rose by 146,000 in November, versus the 85,000 expected by the market consensus. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 per cent after a reading of 7.9 per cent for the previous month (Consensus: 7.9 per cent).
1118: AB Foods says it has seen good trading in the first two months of the new financial year. The UK has sold 500m in 1 and 3 month T-bills each and seen an enormous rise in the bid-to-cover ratios for the former. FTSE 100 down 3 to 5,898.
1000: The footsie is now down four points, and continues to be led by M&S, while defensive stocks, such as the likes of Centrica (Xetra: A0DK6K - news) and Diageo (Xetra: 851247 - news) , put in a decent performance. Tate & Lyle (Dusseldorf: 408414.DU - news) is doing well after it agreed to a 347m-pound partial pensioner buy-in which covers nearly half of its total pensioner liabilities. On the second tier index, Berkeley is delivering decent gains after revealing that both revenue and profit surged in the first half. Panmure Gordon hiked its target price on the stock from 1,390p to 1,650p on the back of the results, but retained its 'hold' recommendation, saying that the valuation "looks up with events".
0838: The FTSE 100 is down three points at 5,898 as it continues to tiptoe around the 5,900 level. M&S is pulling back after a strong rise on Thursday. Market rumours yesterday linked retail tycoon Sir Philip Green to a possible bid for the High Street (BSE: HIGHSTREE.BO - news) giant, eight years after his nine-billion-pound offer for the group failed. The speculation followed Green's sale of a 25 per cent stake in Top Shop last week. However an Arcadia spokesperson denied such speculation yesterday when questioned by Sharecast.
0815: The FTSE 100 opened broadly flat this morning, up just seven points at 5,908, with investors showing caution ahead of the US employment report. Meanwhile, stocks were also dampened by the Bundesbank cutting German growth forecasts for next year from 1.6 per cent (estimated in June) to just 0.4 per cent.