Jobs data, or ‘non-farm payrolls’ as they have it, in from the US.
US businesses added 235,000 jobs in February, above economists’ forecasts of about 200,000. The official figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also indicated that the unemployment rate fell to 4.7%.
Paul Sirani, Chief Market Analyst at Xtrade, says: ‘Having added 238,000 jobs in January, today’s numbers remained close to that impressive mark. There would have been little that could have derailed Janet Yellen’s plans to raise rates next week and a hike on Wednesday is now fully expected.
‘The US labor market remains in really good health. But, we will see over the next few months whether Donald Trump can deliver on his election promises, having placed jobs at the heart of his presidential campaign.’
Wall Street not open yet, but the Footsie is as high as it’s been all day: 44.7 points or 0.6% up at 7359.7.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics haved revealed British manufacturing and construction output declined in January, driven by a pharmaceuticals slump as the UK braces for an expected slowdown in economic growth in the run-up to Brexit.
Construction output fell 0.4 per cent for the month in line with expectations after 1.8 per cent growth in December, while repair and maintenance dropped 1.3 per cent over the period.
Shares are 14.3p or 4% up at 344.45 after it announced a deal with regulator Ofcom to split out the Openreach network from its main business. Openreach will become a legally separate company without any BT branding, but will remain within the BT Group rather than being sold to a third party.
Read more: BT shares leap on deal to split Openreach network after two-year battle with regulator
The insurer zoomed to the top of the FTSE 250 leaderboard in late-morning trading after it said it was in ‘full growth mode’, with underlying post-tax profits up 18% to £80.5million in the year to the end of December. It added it had avoided taking a hit from changes to discount rate rules, which sets it apart from Admiral and Direct Line which both issued less upbeat statements this week and paid with share price drops.
Esure share are up 16.8p or 7.5%, to 239.1p.
The ever-entertaining Tim Martin of Wetherspoons has ripped into Chancellor Philip Hammond, accusing him of delivering a ‘budget for dinner parties’ rather than pub goers. ‘We understand the need for the Government to raise taxes,’ he said. ‘However, there should be a sensible rebalancing of the taxes paid by pubs and supermarkets, if the pub industry is to survive in the long term.’
London’s blue-chip index is currently trading nearly 30 points up at 7344.4, with BT the top riser with a gain of 4.5% after the telecomms and media giant revealed this morning it has reached an agreement with Ofcom to hive off its infrastructure arm Openreach. More on that later. Morrisons makes a 1.5% recovery after a 6% drop yesterday despite decent figures as investors worried about headwinds persisting for the groceries sector.