FTSE firms boost the index

In mid-morning trading the FTSE 100 is nine points higher, helped on its way by results from a number of firms.

Aggreko beat analysts expectations but still saw profits drop by some 8% as operations in Japan and Afghanistan began to wind down.

Aviva followed the trend set by previous insurance firms as it's shares benefited from a 6% increase in operating profits. The insurance company has so far set aside £60 million in order to cover UK flooding claims that they expect to receive in the first half of 2014.

UK engineering firm IMI has posted solid gains as profits increased by 8% in 2013; however squeezed margins and a more competitive sector have given rise to a more difficult year ahead, as it has lowered expectations for 2014.

Unsurprisingly, Standard Life and the Royal Bank of Scotland have been joined by Lloyds, Barclays and Shell – three more FTSE companies that have decided to publically voice their concerns over an independent Scotland. If Alex Salmond is to help put these companies fears at ease, he will have to come up with a considerably more comprehensive outline of the financial implications of being a company based and working in Scotland.

The morning session in the FTSE will see traders speculating as to the latest comments to come from both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank concerning interest rate decisions. In both cases it is unlikely we will see change; however, in the case of the ECB, tackling its particularly low inflation rate is still an overriding issue. Regardless of yesterday's better-than-expected monthly retail sales figures for the EU, it will take more than a few less frugal shoppers to turn this around, but whether that is enough to convince the ECB to introduce negative interest rates on deposits is another question.

Ahead of the open, we expect the Dow Jones to start 28 points higher, at 16,388.

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