Market overview: FTSE closes down 13 points at 6,104



LONDON (ShareCast) - 1630: Close The FTSE finished today's session firmly in the red, led by tobacco giant Imperial after going ex-dividend this morning. Leading the risers was TUI Travel (LSE: TT.L - news) after the company confirmed that it has been approached by its German parent company, TUI AG (Xetra: TUAG00 - news) , about a merger. In economic news, PM David Cameron said that he wants Britain to remain inside the EU, but urged negotiations for a 'better relationship'. Also making the headlines was the Brent pipeline, which transports 10 per cent of the UK's oil production; the pipeline has been shut down temporarily after a leak was discovered on a North Sea platform. The FTSE closed down 13 points at 6,104.

1515: Shares in travel group TUI Travel have raced ahead this afternoon after the firm said it has received an approach from German parent TUI AG which may result in a 'combination' of the two companies. TUI Travel said: 'Discussions are at a very early stage, but are on the basis that any such combination, if effected, would be achieved not by a reverse takeover but by means of a nil premium all-share merger.' The stock has now jumped over seven per cent higher and now leads the risers on the FTSE 350.

1415: Industrial production grew at a 0.3 per cent month-on-month pace in December, as expected. The previous month's reading, however, was revised up to show a contraction of just 0.3 per cent month-on-month, instead of the preliminary estimate of 0.7 per cent.

1330: The US consumer price index for the month of December has come in at 0.3 per cent month-on-month (Consensus: 0 per cent). The so-called 'core' rate, however, has come in a tenth of a percentage point lower than expected, at 0.1 per cent month-on-month.

1252: Speaking on Bloomberg TV the President of the Boston Federal Reserve, Eric Rosengren, has stated that talk of an 'exit' strategy from quantitative easing (QE) is premature. Nevertheless, he has added that he does worry about the risks associated with QE.

1238: Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS-PB - news) unveils fourth quarter earnings per share of 5.60 dollars (Consensus: 3.66 dollars). Net revenues at 9.24bn dollars (Consensus: 7.83bn dollars). Shares are moving up by 2.44 per cent before the opening bell.

1232: UK Prime Minister says not right to hold a referendum on EU membership at the present time. Shares of JP Morgan (Other OTC: JPAAZ - news) are now down 1.47%. Results for Goldman Sachs were expected at 12:30.

1203: JP Morgan's fourth quarter earnings per share have come in at 1.39 dollars (pro-forma: 1.46 dollars), ahead of forecasts, but the initial reaction in premarket trading has been a small downwards move, to stand 0.22% lower. Goldman Sachs is scheduled to release earnings at 12:30.

1132: Shares of Anglo American (LSE: AAL.L - news) continue to be at the bottom of the pile - and on heavy trading volumes - on reports of strike action at one of its mines in South Africa.

1110: What's the price to be paid for greater stability in the Eurozone?
This is market analyst Michael Hewson's, from CMC Markets, response: "Unfortunately this appears to be the price for the recent decline in Spanish and Italian bond yields, which have been highly correlated with the euro as pressure on the ability of the Spanish and Italian governments to sell their bonds has subsided. If yields continue to fall then we could well see further euro gains towards $1.40 which would ratchet up the problems once again in the weaker economies as they struggle to rebalance."

1105: A pipeline responsible for transporting 10 per cent of Britain's oil production has been closed after a leak was discovered on a North Sea oil platform.

1055: Analyst at Nomura see ways for Vodafone (LSE: VOD.L - news) to increase the value of the stock and yet today have written to clients telling them that: "Vodafone's Board will reconsider uses of cash flow following the expiry of its 3-year dividend commitment. Even after Vodafone has discontinued its special dividend, there are obvious competing needs for cash flow such as spectrum and mergers and acquisitions (M&A). (...) However, without clarity on the dividend policy and with negative earnings momentum ahead, we expect the stock will continue to drift in the first half of 2013. We hold a Neutral rating." As an aside, the same broker has today upped its price targets on the main High Street banks. FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) down 32 to 6,085.

1048: Bank of America (Other OTC: BACYL - news) and Citi have today both downgraded their view on shares of Taylor Wimpey (LSE: TW.L - news) to neutral.

1000: The Eurozone consumer price index for the month of December has been confirmed at 2.2 per cent, as expected, although some economists had seen a risk of a small upwards revision.

0900: The Japanese currency unit (the Nikkei-225 fell by over 2% overnight) had been falling since early Tuesday morning, after hitting long-term technical resistance at around the 120 yen level and accumulating large overbought readings. Following Juncker's remarks the currency's retreat continued, with the Euro/yen now down by 1.26 per cent (and by a similar amount against the pound and a tad less versus the US dollar) and having gone into overbought territory on 1 hour charts, comment analysts at Digital Look. FTSE 100 down 40 to 6,077.

0859: Anglo American is now very much on traders' radar, with some market chatter this morning regarding the possible fall-out which any lay-offs may have on the company's relationship with the government. Analysts at SocGen (Paris: FR0000130809 - news) have downgraded the company's shares to sell.

0834: UK stocks have started the session moderately lower, keying off of weakness in Asian trading, where the Nikkei-225 has led losses. Market commentary seems to be concentrating on the fact that many equity benchmarks were in so-called 'overbought' territory. Nevertheless, and acting as a backdrop, overnight the World Bank lowered its global growth forecasts for this year. In parallel, the head of the Eurozone's grouping of Finance ministers, Jean Claude Juncker, has raised the alarm regarding the recent sharp rise in the single currency. Anglo American is again the worst performer on the Footsie today, followed by Imperial Tobacco (LSE: IMT.L - news) (which goes ex-dividend) and ARM Holdings (LSE: ARM.L - news) after a downgrade out of UBS (albeit alongside an increase in its target price). Tesco (Other OTC: TSCDY - news) is off amid the negative news flow surrounding a food safety scandal. FTSE 100 down 25 to 6,092.

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