Pound weakens as saving rate falls to 4%

The pound weakened against the dollar by 0.9% after the Bank of England failed to provide clarity on the future direction of interest rates.

The Bank did up its forecast for economic growth in 2017 from 1.4% to 2%.

In the corporate world, multinational oil and gas firm Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) reduced borrowings and improved fourth quarter cash flow performance, up from $5.4bn to $9.2bn year-on-year.

Investors focused on the positives instead of an 8% slide in earnings, pushing the stock 1.7% higher.

Shell is the biggest company in the FTSE 100 index, so a decent move in its share price can have a major influence on the broader market.

That was clearly the case today as its share price gain helped to push up the FTSE 100 by 0.6% to 7,154.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) and consumer goods colossus Unilever (ULVR) were other notable risers on the blue chip index.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil was flat at $53.85 and $57 per barrel, respectively.

Gold advanced 0.8% to $1,215 per ounce, while copper slipped 1% to $5,908 per tonne.

In the US, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 was resilient despite President Donald Trump’s wild tweets about Iran being ‘put on notice’ for firing a ballistic missile.

This came only hours after news reports claimed a call between Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull turned soured.

In the week to 28 January, US unemployment declined by 14,000 to 246,000 according to the US Department of Labor.

FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS

Reckitt Benckiser (RB.), the consumer goods giant behind brands such as Nurofen, revealed it is in advanced negotiations to buy US baby formula maker Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN) for $16.7bn.

Pharmaceutical business AstraZeneca (AZN) warned of falling profit and revenue in 2017 as generic versions of its cholesterol drug Crestor continued to hit sales.

Telecoms giant Vodafone (VOD) said full year earnings would be at ‘the lower end of guidance’, causing the stock to fall 1.5%.

Catering giant Compass (CPG) was in positive territory after revealing a £74m currency boost to profit from the devaluation of the pound.

The appointment of former Travelex boss Peter Jackson (not the Lord of the Rings director) as chief executive of WorldPay (WPG) was overshadowed by a £606m shares placing.

The placing was completed by major investors Bain Capital and Advent Funds.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

Foxy Bingo owner GVC (GVC) sparked 6.3% higher to 655p as it flagged that full year net gaming revenue rose by 9%, ahead of its previous estimate.

Hungarian budget airline Wizz Air (WIZZ) started to bounce back from its profit guidance cut on Wednesday. It reported a jump in passengers to 1.9 million in January 2017 versus 1.6 million in the same period a year earlier.

The cost of your breakfast could increase as sausages producer Cranswick (CWK) said input costs and debt were rising, although shares were flat at £23.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Financially troubled Avocet Mining (AVM) continued to struggle after admitting it needed between $11m and $14m to develop three projects near its Inata operation.

Mineral explorer Kodal Minerals (KOD) found more lithium oxide than expected at the Ngoualana prospect, which excited investors such that they marked the stock 7.3% higher.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com