MPC raises GDP forecasts sharply


LONDON (ShareCast) - - Stocks track mixed performance on Wall Street
- Sterling and long-term yields rise after Inflation Report
- Market commentary divided on outlook for Bank Rate
- Insurers and miners lead gains

techMARK 2,831.18 -0.18%
FTSE 100 6,675.03 +0.04%
FTSE 250 16,079.18 +0.01%

Stocks underperformed equity benchmarks on the Continent, tracking the mixed start to trading seen on Wall Street.

Be that as it may, without a doubt the focus of the session was on the presentation of the Bank of England's Quarterly Inflation Report and the Monetary Policy Committee's (MPC (KOSDAQ: 050540.KQ - news) ) revamped 'forward guidance'.

The essence, arguably, did not change. Bank is still striving to achieve a balanced and sustained economic recovery.

However, the focus of the new policy architecture is now, squarely, on the need to reduce the amount of excess slack in the economy - given that it is a waste of resources, as Carney said. With that aim in mind, the MPC also unveiled a range of indicators with the aim of better gauging the degree of spare capacity in the economy.

Yet what most moved markets was the shift seen in the BoE (Shenzhen: 000725.SZ - news) 's macroeconomic forecasts.

The UK economy is now seen expanding at a 3.4% pace this year, well ahead of the 2.8% estimated in November and above even most private forecasters best guesses. That sent sterling noticeably higher in foreign exchange markets and yields on 10-year Gilts up by 8 basis points to 2.82%.

The FTSE 100 ended the day just 2 points higher at 6,675.03.

As a result of all of the above, some observers thought that the MPC was implicitly sanctioning forecasts that interest rates would rise earlier than the MPC had previously been thinking, at some point in 2015.

Nonetheless, measuring excess spare capacity is quite difficult. Hence, the MPC's new framework could conceivably be more dovish than at first appeared to be the case, as Capital Economics pointed out.

Having said that, and to be seen at the other end of the range of opinions, some now expect a first increase in the main policy rate to arrive by as soon as this year.

In parallel, even if theoretically more precise analysts questioned the benefit of presenting such a complex framework.

Critically, in any case, Carney stressed that if and when the times comes that the economy can sustain higher interest rates the Bank Rate will then rise only gradually and any increase in rates will be limited.

Insurers lead gains, miners do well

Mining (LSE: MIR.L - news) stocks were in demand after the better-than-expected data from top metals consumer China. Glencore Xstrata (Other OTC: GLCNF - news) , Anglo American (LSE: AAL.L - news) , Rio Tinto (Xetra: 855018 - news) and Antofagasta (Other OTC: ANFGF - news) all traded higher. Analysts pointed to the improved prospects for the sector this year. Insurers also did well, possibly as a result of the rise in long-term Gilt yields.

Standard Chartered (HKSE: 2888.HK - news) was one of the day's best performers after appointing a new head of its private banking unit and unveiling plans to sell its Swiss private bank as part of its strategy of narrowing its regional focus. According to The Wall Street Journal, the move followed a comprehensive review by the group.

Outsourcing solutions and distribution specialist Bunzl (LSE: BNZL.L - news) gained on the back of an upgrade to 'buy' by analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Africa-focused explorer Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW.L - news) was a heavy faller after saying that while revenues rose in 2013 profits fell in the face of a £200m increase in exploration write-offs. Oil peers Shell (LSE: RDSB.L - news) and BP (LSE: BP.L - news) also ended the day lower.

Consumer products (Other OTC: CPSV - news) giant Reckitt Benckiser (Xetra: A0M1W6 - news) said it exceeded its targets after "another strong year" in 2013, but warned that markets conditions have become more challenging. The company beat estimates for revenues, margins and net debt.

Data centre services group Telecity saw its shares dive as much as 12% in early trading after predicting 2014 revenue would be below that forecast by some analysts. At least two brokers highlighted the risk posed by the firm's high levels of capital expenditure.

FTSE 100 - Risers
Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO.L - news) (ANTO) 927.00p +2.66%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 231.70p +1.80%
Bunzl (Frankfurt: BUZ1.F - news) (BNZL) 1,416.00p +1.80%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,292.50p +1.77%
Ashtead Group (LSE: AHT.L - news) (AHT) 827.50p +1.47%
Sports Direct International (Other OTC: SDISY - news) (SPD) 718.00p +1.41%
Tesco (Frankfurt: TS3.F - news) (TSCO) 323.10p +1.38%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,506.00p +1.33%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 337.20p +1.31%
Babcock International Group (BAB (Other OTC: BABB - news) ) 1,412.00p +1.22%

FTSE 100 - Fallers
Tullow Oil (TLW) 793.00p -6.21%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,387.00p -3.28%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,610.00p -2.02%
Amec (Munich: AQ4.MU - news) (AMEC (Other OTC: AMCBF - news) ) 1,090.00p -1.98%
Sage Group (LSE: SGE.L - news) (SGE) 420.10p -1.87%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 1,042.00p -1.70%
Barclays (Berlin: BCY.BE - news) (BARC) 260.20p -1.70%
Unilever (Amsterdam: UNIA.AS - news) (ULVR) 2,362.00p -1.42%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 742.50p -1.33%
Royal Dutch Shell (Xetra: R6C1.DE - news) 'A' (RDSA) 2,116.00p -1.28%

FTSE 250 - Risers
African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG.L - news) (ABG) 251.50p +4.79%
Kenmare Resources (LSE: KMR.L - news) (KMR) 15.90p +3.25%
Ocado Group (Other OTC: OCDGF - news) (OCDO) 580.00p +3.02%
UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company (UDG) 341.30p +2.80%
Cable & Wireless Communications (LSE: CWC.L - news) (CWC) 55.20p +2.70%
IP Group (LSE: IPO.L - news) (IPO) 184.80p +2.67%
esure Group (ESUR) 279.50p +2.38%
Laird (LRD) 312.00p +2.30%
Ashmore Group (Other OTC: AJMPF - news) (ASHM) 344.70p +2.16%
Playtech (Frankfurt: PL8.F - news) (PTEC) 740.00p +2.14%

FTSE 250 - Fallers
Telecity Group (LSE: TCY.L - news) (TCY) 659.50p -9.66%
Genus (GNS) 1,223.00p -3.93%
Cairn Energy (LSE: CNE.L - news) (CNE) 199.00p -3.73%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 179.00p -2.88%
Oxford Instruments (LSE: OXIG.L - news) (OXIG) 1,513.00p -2.76%
Tullett Prebon (LSE: TLPR.L - news) (TLPR) 332.60p -2.43%
Serco Group (Other OTC: SECCF - news) (SRP) 402.70p -2.38%
UK Commercial Property Trust (UKCM) 77.85p -2.32%
3i Infrastructure (3IN) 133.20p -2.27%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 842.00p -2.21%


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