ICB report fails to ignite equity markets

<p>Equity markets across Europe remained relatively unchanged at 1pmGMT today, with banking stocks being the main focus of the day following the release of the Independent […]</p>

Equity markets across Europe remained relatively unchanged at 1pmGMT today, with banking stocks being the main focus of the day following the release of the Independent Commission on the Banking (ICB) interim report early this morning.

The ICB was set up to outline possible proposals for the UK banking sector with the aim of avoiding future banking crisis, the like of which we have seen in recent years. The report was well received by the banking sector as the commission stopped short of suggesting banks should entirely separate their retail and investment operations, however they did state “firewalls” should be introduced to protect the retail operations from the investment banking arm.

At 1pm GMT Barclays was the biggest winner on the day, trading +9.4p at 306.55 (+3.2%) with an intraday high of 310p. Sector buddy RBS was also having a good session trading +1p at 44.5p (+2.4%).

Another sector in buoyant mood were the miners who accounted for 7 points of the FTSE move this morning, with 3 of the top 10 biggest winners on the day being BHP Billiton, Xstrata and Fresnillo, all posting 1% gains on the day.

As most traders mulled over their choice of sandwich bar or public house for lunch, the biggest loser on the day was 3i Group. The UK-listed private equity firm today confirmed its expansion into Brazil, along with the hiring of Marcelo Di Lorenzo to head up the operation. The news was not well received by investors as 3i Group was trading down 6.9p at 268.2p (-2.5%) at 1pm GMT.

News of two more earthquakes off the north east coast of Japan has also given investors reason to be cautious. Thankfully these two earthquakes have been smaller in magnitude than the one which caused so much destruction and devastation around a month ago. With no macro data from the US today and nervous news emanating from Japan it is understandable that equity markets remain downbeat. Traders can expect another quiet session this afternoon.

At 1pm GMT the FTSE was trading +2.8 points at 6058, the CAC -27 points and the DAX -15 points at 7201.

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