LONDON (ShareCast) - 1630: Close The FTSE closed up 45 points on Wednesday, at its highest level since May 2008. Leading the way higher were banking stocks after UBS (Berlin: UBRA.BE - news) hiked its targets for the Lloyds, Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) and RBS (LSE: RBS.L - news) , saying 'the UK is over its experiment of combining fiscal and monetary austerity'. In economic news shop price inflation remained unchanged at a 1.5 per cent year-on-year pace in December, according to the latest data released today by the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Meanwhile, the UK's trade deficit closed in November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) as exports caught up slightly with imports, according to the Office for National Statistics.
1459: FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) has hit the 6,100 point mark. Be that as it may, Eurozone periphery bond yields are actually standing higher while the single currency -somewhat oddly - is actually standing lower on the day. Shares of Centamin (Toronto: CEE.TO - news) and African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG.L - news) are now bouncing back from their recent sharp losses - particularly the latter - in part benefitting from a similar bounce in the price of gold. They are leading gains on the FTSE 350.
1414: Bank of America Merrill Lynch has upped its price targets on RBS (to 400p from 375p) and Lloyds (to 65p from 60p). FTSE 100 up 41 to 6,095.
1325: In a note published yesterday analysts at Morgan Stanley (Xetra: 885836 - news) warned that Greece's recession could continue into 2014. The report forecasts that the Hellenic economy will not rebound in 2014 but rather face a 1% contraction. The country is already entering its sixth year of recession with approximately one out of every four Greeks being unemployed and about 50% of youths under 25 being out of work. FTSE 100 up 34 to 6,088.
1258: Shares of Wood Group are higher after an upgrade from Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS-PB - news) to buy from neutral. Its target price has been raised to 940p from 912p.
1200: Along with their decision to upgrade shares of Lloyds to buy from neutral analysts at UBS have also raised their price targets on Barclays (to 315p from 255p) and RBS (to 410p). "We believe that the UK is over its experiment of combining fiscal and monetary austerity. The incoming Bank of England governor's openness to monetary policy innovation may not even need to be tested if, as we expect, banks return to lending. Their balance sheets are fixed, a belated shift in the regulatory agenda is on the cards (...) An effective loosening of monetary policy through cheaper mortgages with less onerous deposits is at hand, in our opinion," they say. FTSE 100 up 24 to 6,077.
0930: The UK's visible trade balance worsened slightly in November, reaching a -9.16bn pounds (Consensus: -9bn). The previous month's reading as revised to -9.487bn pounds from 9.539bn before. Sainsbury (LSE: SBRY.L - news) is now the worst performer on the Footsie. Morgan Stanley has downgraded British Sky Broadcasting (LSE: BSY.L - news) to equalweight from overweight. RBS and Standard Chartered (Other OTC: SCBFF - news) are moving up the leader board. FTSE 100 up 18 to 6,072.
0853: Shares of Meggitt (Other OTC: MEGGF - news) are leading the gains on the top share index following an upgrade out from analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch to buy from neutral. Lloyds is also moving higher after an upgrade from analysts at UBS to buy from neutral. British Land (LSE: BLND.L - news) goes ex-dividend today. FTSE 100 up 22 to 6,076.
0832: Shares have begun the day with a moderate bounce despite the somewhat mixed corporate news-flow this morning. Precisely in that regard, Sainsbury is falling 2 per cent after warning the 'celebrations' will probably not last into the new year. However, third quarter total sales gained 3.9 per cent, +0.9 per cent excluding fuel, which was largely in-line with estimates. "We expect the challenging economic backdrop to persist, with customers looking to re-balance their household budget after the festivities and so spending cautiously in the first few months of 2013," said Chief Executive Justin King. Aviva (LSE: AV.L - news) is lower after selling its 19.4 per cent Delta Lloyd stake via a private placement at 12.65 euros/share, for gross cash proceeds of 353m pounds. AMEC (LSE: AMEC.L - news) is rising this morning, benefiting from an upgrade out of Goldman Sachs to buy from neutral. Meggitt is higher on the back of a similar upgrade from analysts at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. FTSE 100 up 30 to 6,083.