Thur City brief: FTSE 100 at new record close as ECB unveils QE details

The European Central Bank said it will begin its €1.1trn quantitative easing programme on Monday. Bond-buying will continue until September 2016. The move helped drive markets higher and the FTSE 100 rose 41.9pts to a new record close of 6,961.14, surpassing a previous closing record of 6,949.73 reached last week. A new milestone could be reached tomorrow it if breaches the milestone 7,000.

Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex, said: “The Eurozone markets as a whole were posting big gains as lunch-time approached, with the expectation that Draghi’s comments will only spur on further growth.”

London was led early on by insurer Aviva, up 7.05% at 569.5p after reporting a rise in 2014 operating profit and progress in its turnaround plan.

ITV extended gains after several broker upgrades followed its announcement of a return of cash to shareholders. Shares in the broadcaster were up 6.5p or 2.77% at 241p after HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Berenberg, JPMorgan, Nomura and Exane all raised their target prices.

Today’s results include:

AGGREKO: Shares fell 11p or 0.67% to 1,625p 1.4% as pre-tax profit for the year fell 13% from £333m to £289m. But new chief executive Chris Weston said progress over the first two months of the year has been encouraging, including new contracts in Argentina and Myanmar (95MW).  The temporary power producer has also secured an extension to a contract in Japan and multi-year contract extensions in Argentina and Ivory Coast. But it warns that securing further contract extensions and winning new work is key in order to drive growth this year. Expects underlying trading profit to be broadly in line with last year. The group is proposing a final dividend of 17.74p, making a total for the year of 27.12p (2013: 26.3p).

LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE: Adjusted profit before tax of £491.7m, up 19% (2013: £412.7m) on revenue up 32% to £1.28bn. Proposed final dividend of 12.8p, up 6.5%, making a total dividend of 22.5p for the 9 month period, equivalent to 75% of the payment the board would have made for a full year to March 2015.

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