FTSE higher as central bank updates loom

In mid-morning trading the FTSE 100 is marginally higher as traders eagerly await updates from the Bank of England and European Central Bank.

Mario Draghi
Source: Bloomberg

Stocks in London are creeping higher as the press conference from the ECB is only a few hours away, and it will provide the long-awaited details about the quantitative easing programme.

Central banks have been the driving force behind the booming stock markets over the past few years and now it is the ECB's turn to flood the financial system with money. Eurozone equity markets are highly dependent on the stimulus package from the ECB and traders will be looking for Mario Draghi to give the green light signalling the next round of buying.

The Ashcroft poll puts the SNP well ahead of Labour in Scotland, and this could prove to be crucial for the Scottish nationalists come May as a hung parliament is looking likely.

IG is offering a number of binary bets on the UK general election and they suggest that the Conservatives and Labour will take 288 and 272 seats respectively. It also indicates the SNP will take 41 seats, which is a 10% increase on the day following the survey conducted by Lord Ashcroft.

Aviva announced a 30% increase in final dividend which is a good barometer of how successful Mark Wilson’s restructuring scheme has been in the past two years; however, Mr Wilson won’t be resting on his laurels as the transformation of Aviva is still underway, especially with the Friends Life acquisition yet to be completed.

Shares in Admiral are lower this morning after the company revealed a 4% drop in pre-tax profits. The insurer’s drop in profits was for the right reasons as the investment in its US business was to blame for not posting another set of record numbers.

The London Stock Exchange reaped the rewards of a strong stock market, higher trading volumes and a jump in IPOs helping the company achieve double-digit increases in adjusted pre-tax profit and revenue.

Across the pond we are expecting the Dow Jones to open unchanged from yesterday’s close, and the US index futures are expected remain muted in the run up to the ECB press conference where Mario Draghi will deliver the details of the bond buying programme.

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