LONDON (ShareCast) - 1630: Close UK stocks settled modestly lower on Thursday as investors weighed up weaker than expected Chinese stimulus measures, details from the latest meeting of the ECB and both US and UK services data. The central bank decided to maintain interest rates at a record low of 0.25 per cent, while UK services activity unexpectedly eased in March to its slowest pace since last June. In the States, the ISM's services PMI rose to 53.1 in March from 51.6 a month ago, slightly less than the 53.5 expected by economists, while the worsened to 42.3bn dollars in February. The FTSE 100 closed 9.90 points lower at 6,649.14.
1500: The ISM's services purchasing managers' index rose to 53.1 from 51.6 a month ago (consensus: 53.5).
1418: Draghi explained that the reason to not introduce monetary easing was the euro-area's reliance on the banking sector, in comparison to other financial systems. "However, I certainly value advice of the IMF as it's certainly a contribution to our analysis. "
1359: QE was a part of an 'ample' discussion by policy makers at today's meeting Draghi says.
1347: European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi said he expects inflation to pick up in April as the monetary authority decided to keep policy unchanged. He said the Easter holiday should boost prices but expects inflation to remain subdued for a long period of time.
1346: First Group cut to 'neutral' from 'buy' over at Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS-PB - news) .
1331: The US trade deficit worsened to 42.3bn dollars in February, following a reading of -39.3bn dollars in the month before and versus expectations for a negative print of 38.5bn dollars. "[The data] suggests that first-quarter GDP growth was only 1.5% annualised, lower than our previous estimate of 2.0%," Capital Economics said.
1330: Three-month copper futures are down 1.4 per cent to 6,610 dollars per tonne.
1330: Initial weekly unemployment claims increased by 16,000 to hit 326,000, versus the approximately 320,000 expected by some economists.
1245: The European Central Bank (ECB) decided to keep interest rates at a record low of 0.25 per cent today, as expected by most analysts. The marginal lending facility was also held oat 0.75 per cent. ECB President Mario Draghi is due to speak at 13:30 BST.
1204: Analysts at BSkyB have reiterated their 'underweight' recommendation on shares of British Sky Broadcasting (LSE: BSY.L - news) and lifted their target to 610p from 600p. In their opinion, the recent rally in the stock suggests that significant risks are being overlooked and a low impact from the launch of the 'NOW TV' triple play offer is expected. As well, concerns regarding the upcoming Premier League auction - which is likely within the next twelve months - are likely to rise. FTSE 100 up 2 to 6,661.
1028: Shares of Just Eat are rising by 3.9 per cent on the day of their stock market flotation.
0930: The UK services PMI slipped to 57.6 in March, down from the preliminary estimate of 58.2 (consensus: 58.2).
0900: The Eurozone services PMI for March has come in at 52.2 versus a reading of 52.6 for the month before and a forecast for 52.4.
0844: Stock have begun the session slightly in the blue following data out overnight showing Chinese service sector activity at a four-month high and above last month's levels. Today's main talking points will be the ECB's policy meeting and the latest batch of Eurozone service sector activity figures. Tullow is an early mover after analysts at UBS (Xetra: UB0BL6 - news) upgraded the shares to 'buy' from 'neutral'. Daily Mail has been upped to 'Conviction buy' over at Goldman Sachs. FTSE 100 up 9 to 6,668.
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