London indices were in positive territory on Thursday (8 December) after British Airways-owner IAG and mining blue chips extended gains for a second successive session.
At 3:05pm BST, the FTSE 100 was 0.33% or 22.91 points higher at 6925.14, as IAG (+ 3.43% or 14.90p at 449.60p), blue chip miners Rio Tinto (+2.92% or 94p at 3315.50p) and Antofagasta (+2.84% or 21p at 761.50p) led the way.
However, the top FTSE 100 riser of the session was WPP (+3.83% or 63p at 1710p), which continued to benefit from the revelation that it would be spending about $70m ($55m) with Snapchat on behalf of its clients.
Going the other way, the biggest FTSE 100 fallers were Capita at 499.00p (-11.62% or -65.00p), Royal Mail at 459.90p (-2.77% or -13.10p), Standard Chartered at 669.00p (-2.29% or -15.70p), Rolls-Royce at 660.50p (-1.78% or -12.00p) and Babcock International at 941.50p (-1.72% or -16.50p).
The negative story of the session belongs to midcap Sports Direct as dire trading figures sent its share price plunging by 7.08% to 292.60p. In the 26 weeks to 23 October, underlying pre-tax profit plunged 57% year-on-year to £71.6m at the retailer, while reported profit before tax fell 25.1% from the corresponding period in the previous year to £140.2m.
Overall, the FTSE 250 was trading up 0.18% or 32.49 points to 17,658.02, with Evraz (+11.18% or +26.70p to 265.60p), Berendsen (+8.52% or 66p to 840.50p), DS Smith (+6.04% or +23.90 to 419.90p) and NMC Health (+5.53% or 76p to 1,450p) keeping the index on positive turf.
Apart from Sports Direct, other notable FTSE 250 fallers included William Hill at 290.20p (-6.84% or -21.30p), CMC Markets at 110.80p (-4.89% or 5.70p), Ocado Group at 264.30p (-4.83% or -13.40p) and IG Group at 488.90 (-4.70% or -24.10p) as gambling and spread-betting firms continue to feel the heat from a possible regulatory crackdown.
Elsewhere, the European Central Bank (ECB) extended its bond-buying programme until at least December 2017, in line with market expectation, as it kept interest rates unchanged at zero.
The bank also left its refinancing rate – i.e the rate at which it lends money to commercial banks – at zero and -0.4 % on deposits it takes from banks, with a view to encouraging banks to lend money rather than deposit it at the ECB.
In a statement, the bank said its €80bn-a-month quantitative easing scheme will continue as normal until the end of March 2017, after which it would cut bond purchases to €60bn (£50.63bn) a month.
ECB President Mario Draghi said that if the eurozone economic outlook "becomes less favourable", the central bank would consider expanding the size and/or length of its bond-buying programme.
Fighting off suggestions of a fudge, or whether or not the ECB's move constituted a tapering, Draghi said: "The presence of the ECB will be on the markets for a long time. That's why tapering was not discussed."
Shilen Shah, bond strategist at Investec Wealth & Investment, said: "The key takeaway is the confirmation that the ECB is extending its bond buying programme past the first quarter of 2017, with the programme scheduled to end in December 2017. That said the market seems to be somewhat disappointed by the central bank's so-called slower for longer strategy, with the German 10-year yield up 8.5bps on the day and the Italian 10-year yield up 14bps."