İts index chiefs

10.00: The Footsie held firm as the morning progressed on expectations policymakers will continue efforts to support global growth, with China believed to be ready to take action to boost its economy, while the Federal Reserve is expected to signal that it is no hurry to increase US interest rates.By mid morning, the FTSE 100 index was 25.2 points higher at 6,829.3, extending yesterday’s recovery having slumped 2.5 per cent last week.European markets, however, ran into some profit taking after strong gains yesterday, with the Dax 30 index in Frankfurt losing 0.7 per cent after reaching record highs on Monday, while Paris’s CAC 40 index slipped 0.1 per cent lower.On currency markets, the euro was a touch higher against both the pound and the dollar after a recent slide, although it remained close to 7 and 12 year lows against both currencies respectively as the European Central Bank’s bond-buying programme weighed.
Diggin in: Mining stocks also were mostly higher again on the hopes for further stimulus measures from China, the world’s top metal consumer of metalsThere was little reaction to news that the ZEW index of economic expectations for Germany – a key measure of investors confidence in the eurozones largest economy – rose to a reading of 54.8 for March, up from 53 in February but lower than forecast.The pound was also lower against the dollar at $1.4785 as yesterday’s recovery faded, with the US currency boosted recently by expectations that a Fed rate hike could come as early as June after a recent strong jobs report, although the US central bank is expected to hold fire at the conclusion of its latest two-day policy meeting tomorrow.The UK currency was cautious with the Budget, plus UK labour market data, and minutes from this month’s Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting all due for release tomorrow.
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No important UK data was released today aside from the latest numbers from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, which reported weak mortgage advances in January, falling by 25.5 per cent month-on-month and 15.5 per cent year-on-year, although there were signs that housing market activity may be bottoming out.Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global said: ‘We expect support for housing market activity to come over the coming months from the recent Stamp Duty reform, very low mortgage rates, elevated consumer confidence, a pick-up in earnings growth and rising employment.’
‘Nevertheless,’ he added, ‘the upside for housing market activity is expected to be constrained by more stretched house prices to earnings ratios, tighter checking of prospective mortgage borrowers by lenders and the knowledge that interest rates will eventually start rising, albeit gradually.’Among equities, the supermarket sector was in focus after Sainsburys published a trading update showing its sales fell on an underlying basis for the fifth quarter in a row.However, shares rose by 1p to 269.5p on relief that the 1.9 per cent decline in like-for-like sales for the 10 weeks to March 14 was not bigger. In May, the retailer is expected to post its first annual decline in profits in a decade.After strong gains yesterday on hopes for a disposal of its Clubcard data business, Tesco shares were 2.4p lower at 238.9p, while William Morrison shed 1p to 204.8p as Sainsburys warned it expects another year of challenging trading conditions.Energy stocks were the main driving force behind the Footsies performance as Tullow Oil improved 6 per cent or 17.1p to 298.4p and Royal Dutch Shell lifted 37p to 2,062.5p. BP was 2 per cent higher, up 6.7p to 424.3p in spite of a weaker oil price – Brent crude held around $53.50 a barrel today.The sector was supported by hopes that chancellor George Osborne’s Budget tomorrow will include measures to support the North Sea oil and gas industry in the aftermath of the recent sharp drop in oil prices.Mining stocks also were mostly higher again on the hopes for further stimulus measures from China, the world’s top metal consumer of metals, with Rio Tinto up 33.5p to 2,881.5p and Anglo American ahead 14.0p at 1.069.5p.
Heavyweight miner BHP Billiton outperformed, adding 2 per cent or 288.5p at 1,444.5p after shareholders welcomed the companys pledge not to cut its dividend post the proposed June demerger of its non-core activities in a new company called South32, which shareholders approved today.Mid cap platinum miner Lonmin jumped 10 per cent or 11.5p to 122.5p after appointing Ben Moolman as its new chief operating officer to replace Johan Viljon who resigned one month ago.However, Antofagasta bucked the sector trend, shedding nearly 4 per cent or 26p at 681p after the firm slashed its dividend by 77 per cent as its annual profits fell by a bigger-than-expected 18 per cent, reflecting weakness in copper prices.08:40: The Footsie continued where it left off yesterday evening, making steady gains in early trade boosted by Chinese government stimulus plans and expectations that the Federal Reserve will not change its rhetoric on US interest rates when its latest two-day meeting ends tomorrow.   In opening deals, the FTSE 100 index was up 31.6 points at 6,837.1, having finished 63.5 points higher yesterday bolstered by a rally from mining and retail stocks.European markets were mixed, however, with Germanys Dax 30 index down 0.1 per cent after massive gains yesterday and Frances CAC 40 index ahead 0.1 per cent supported by the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing programme which has entered its second week. 
New high: Chinese stocks hit a seven year high after reassurances that the government will loosen policy to bolster its slowing economyOvernight Asian markets hit high new highs, taking a positive lead from a jump on Wall Street ahead of the Federal Reserve meeting as investors bet that downbeat data on US manufacturing, industrial output and housing released yesterday would lead the central bank to be cautious in its plans to raise interest rates.Meanwhile Chinese stocks hit a seven year high after reassurances from its government at the weekend that it will loosen policy to bolster its slowing economy. In the UK today data is once again light on the ground as investors wait to see if chancellor George Osborne makes any surprise announcements in his budget tomorrow.
In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet European Central Bank President Mario Draghi where the subject of the ECB’s bond buying program will be the main point of discussion after yesterday’s publication of the numbers for the banks first week of bond buying.No doubt Greece will also be on the agenda as officials try to work out a deal that can keep the debt-laden southern European country inside the euro zone.Germany will also reveal its ZEW economic sentiment indicator for March, which could spur the Dax even higher after yesterday it broke above the key 12,000 mark for the first time ever and logged its 26th record close in 2015 so far.The final European CPI number for February will also be served up and it is expected to show a slight improvement to -0.3 per cent from -0.6 per cent in January, though core prices are expected to stay steady at 0.6 per cent.However the big event for the week remains the Federal Reserves latest two-day meeting which kicks off today, with an announcement due after tomorrows London close. While no change to monetary policy is expected, investors will be seaching the resultant communique for any signs of changes to its wording.Mike van Dulken, at Accendo Markets, said: If you’re not familiar with the word, remain patient. You may still hear it mentioned given surprisingly disappointing US economic data yesterday. Stocks to watch:SAINSBURY – The supermarket posted a fifth straight quarter of declining underlying sales and said it did not expect the trading environment to improve any time soon.
ANTOFAGASTA – The Chilean copper miner has posted a drop in annual profits and revenues.BHP BILLITON – The miner has put far less debt than expected into its $13billion South32 spin-off, positioning the company formed from its unloved assets to weather tough markets and still pay a dividend.SEVERN TRENT – The utility company has announced investment plans in the renewable energy sector.RSA – The insurer is considering selling its business in Latin America as part of a broad restructuring plan.AVIVA – The insurer is to boost its chiefs potential pay to £6.7million IG – The spreadbetter and financial trading group said adverse movements in the Swiss franc earlier this year caused its annual revenues to drop.JUST EAT – The takeaway food company said revenue would grow to more than £200million this year, continuing the momentum that helped adjusted core earnings for 2014 more than double to £32.6million.FRENCH CONNECTION – The clothing retail company reported a smaller loss, helped by improvement in its wholesale division and global licencing income. 

Paul was we

Never mind the day, the flowers and cards: it’s the whole life that’s the reward. The moans and aches of motherhood are a cliche and we’ve all had fun with them. But the truth is that I wouldn’t have missed it.Given a fair wind, I’d have popped out two or three more (an old wives’ wisdom says women instinctively compete with their mothers, and I am one of four). I didn’t manage that, but I’ve had a fair share. And I am grateful.Bearing children, being clung to (and punched and screamed at), watching them grow and change, showing them the sea and the hills and the circus, marvelling at their differences and talents, meeting their friends and knowing their generation: it’s been an adventure.
Fun and fascinating: Libby, husband Paul Heiney, and children Nicholas and Rosie in the EightiesExhausted new mothers may not believe this, but looking back I wouldn’t miss any of it: cracked nipples, nits, temperatures, taxi duty, sleepovers and exam panics.Even the times that weren’t fun were fascinating, and the humdrum bits were cosy. Even though our marvellous, strange and spiritually wise son died at 23, with all the sorrow and long-shadowing grief that brings, I would not for the world have missed knowing, loving and remembering him.And I can rejoice when his published writings strike a chord with strangers and show that he made his mark.More typically, the continuing gifts and wit of our daughter are a joy, and she shares those good memories, too. If she becomes a mother, I hope she gets as much fun out of it as I did. I suspect she will.
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But like all powerful spells, the very word ‘mother’ attracts a lot of superstitious nonsense. When I wrote a baby book in 1986, How Not To Be A Perfect Mother (still in print, amazingly), it was in frustration at the bossy perfectionism of the others.We got hospital leaflets with ridiculous timetables such as ‘0630: Wake baby, early feed. 0645: Sterilise nappies, prepare vegetables . . .’ with never an entry suggesting a cup of tea, gossip, TV doze or quick game of darts down the pub with the carrycot in the corner. On the other hand, there were how-to books, generally by doctors and often by men, in which everything not compulsory was forbidden.I was saved from this information overload by Christina Hardyment’s brilliant history of childcare manuals, Dream Babies, which reveals that from Locke to Spock and beyond, all the authors had weird bees in their bonnets (often about sex or potties) and some were plain nuts. So, I consulted 50 experienced mothers of all ages and wrote my own.But in the three decades since I wrote subversive books aiming for common sense and a few jokes, society has moved on.
Libby Purves: Wouldnt have missed any part of motherhoodMotherhood, as far as I am concerned, is still a grand club to belong to. But it’s not the only one, nor are parents the only people who help raise the new generation.Some of the most important, nourishing people in my life — and theirs — were childless. The input of teachers, coaches, relatives, babysitters and mentors is vital, because no one should want to be ‘everything’ to a growing, changing, self-propelled new human.Unfortunately, the flip side of this is that a less benign set of influences and role models is there, too: and more today than ever before. Peer pressure to look and dress right and have the right toys and cool satchel has been around since the Sixties, but today it is thrown at children every minute of the day.It must be diabolically harder to counteract this, as good parents do, with affection, laughter, mild mockery and a general cheerful sense of family solidarity.In 1986, and living not in a frenzied, neurotic city but in rural Suffolk, I found no difficulty in saying TV should be rationed and kept out of bedrooms, and computer games ought to be supervised in the corner of the kitchen.You don’t let an eight-year-old make dodgy friends in the woods or go to X-rated films, I said blithely, so watch out at home.Now, however, with unbelievably explicit and sadistic porn available on any smartphone, and dodgy people artfully grooming child victims online in their bedrooms, vigilance has to be greater and more time-consuming.Especially as a lack of safe outside play spaces drive children to spend too long in those indoor cyber-worlds. And, as usual, the burden of moral influence and safety falls on Mum. We are supposed to be the answer. We can’t always be.Two other things have happened since my young motherhood days, affecting the early years in particular.The first is that babies, once regarded by the outside world as nice little blobs hidden in some milky nursery world, became public and fashionable: carted around like It-bags by improbably svelte Celebrity Mums, paraded through parks by desperate politicians and taken to work, including the House of Commons (remember the row when Betty Boothroyd banned breastfeeding?).This fashionableness spawned a tsunami of child-rearing books: even poor Paula Yates weighed in with one.And if we thought Spock, Jolly and Leach were bossy, this new generation outdid them with ‘baby Einstein’ hothousing, hyper-bonding and never allowing a non-organic morsel or grain of sugar to pass the little prince’s lips.
Cracked nipples, nits, temperatures, taxi duty, sleepovers and exam panics were all an adventure, says LibbySome ordered you to share a bed, others, like the (childless) Gina Ford, prescribed a nursery schedule as unwavering as a Swiss rail timetable.As for when, or whether, a mother should go out to work, that battle rages on. I can contribute no more than I did 30 years ago: if you need to work to survive, economically or personally, don’t feel guilty about it. Keep smiling, mainly at the children.If you don’t need to work full-time and you feel guilty doing it, then scale it down and stay home more. Either way, you’ll make it work, but not if you wallow in guilt. It’s a simple mantra, but it might stop you going mad.The change of tone that made the world child-aware and bossily judgmental has not just been in books and newspapers: the internet makes it personal and often vicious.Children face new temptations — porn, body-image issues, online bullying, the joyless pressure to experiment with sex. In a world of sexting, it is harder than ever for a parent to take an unwelcome strong line and catch danger in time.
A less conventional route: Mary Portas asked her brother to be the donor for her lesbian partner, pictured, so the baby has a genetic link to herAnd internet message boards, such as Mumsnet and Twitter, bring instant reproofs from strangers who have read (and probably misunderstood) something and love nothing more than to dub someone the World’s Worst Mum.As my own Mum used to say, resignedly, a mother’s place is in the wrong.Not only are mothers blamed for delinquency, but victims of crime or accidents are accused of having put their child in danger: blaming them makes the commenters feel safer.I mislaid my three-year-old once: one moment’s distraction and she was gone. It was at a Northumbrian castle by a ravine. I ran, enrolled bystanders, called her name: her brother, rather brilliantly for a five-year-old, said: ‘Mum, don’t just call, listen, she might answer.’It was less than five minutes before we found her, sitting on a bench with middle-aged ladies, as a man (sensibly) told her to. But if anything had happened — especially now in the age of online trolls — I know how savagely I would have been blamed.Increasing focus on children’s safety has brought increasing, heavy, cruel judgment. Much of it is from other women: no wonder MI5 wants to recruit on Mumsnet. It’s not just the surveillance skills they’re after, but the taste for assassination.But something else has changed the face of motherhood, too. Advances in fertility medicine create, for the first time, a sense that a child is a ‘right’. Not a surprise, accident, fond hope or blessing: a right that may be demanded by anyone whatever their age, gender or domestic arrangements.Technologies developed for infertility in couples trying conventionally for a baby are extended to the single, improbably old and gay couples.It is possible to fertilise a donated egg of your choice and pay to have it implanted in a poor Indian woman (immured in a commercial dormitory) so your baby, unrelated to the labouring woman, gets delivered to you.It is not only male gay couples in the U.S. who do this, but apparently some married straight couples where the wife does not fancy a lumbering pregnancy, but wants her own genetic child. That is an extreme, a typical excess of a world where everything is for sale.But just as fertility treatments — like adoption — have brought much happiness, so have some of the less conventional routes to new life.Gay men have had children by surrogate volunteers, often maintaining respectful relationships. Others undertake more biologically natural ‘co-parenting’, in which a woman and gay male donor share responsibility. It takes diplomacy and goodwill, and may break down. But then, so do straight marriages.Some arrangements make news: Mary Portas asked her brother to be the donor for her lesbian partner, so the baby has a genetic link to her. She had cared for that younger brother in her hard, orphaned teens and they are close: it is an endearing solution. Handing over control is the last loving task of motherhood. And if we do it gracefully they don’t go far. We can end up with a lot of credit More startling was last week’s tale in this newspaper of the mother who helped her single gay son by carrying a fertilised donor egg. The baby is her grandchild, yet not her child.Like it or not, oddities like that are the inevitable outcome of the new ability to create embryos outside the womb: woman as incubator. One can only hope it works out happily.Actually, that is all one can hope for in any family, however constituted. For mothering is not necessarily, or not only, a biological fact. It is a job description.Some men — brothers, house husbands, widowers, gays — do it rather well. Some women, frankly, don’t. We hear terrible stories of neglectful or murderous mothers, or those who, needy for love themselves, won’t defend their children against a violent boyfriend.Less dramatically come the testimonies of children whose starry mothers weren’t too bothered. Last weekend, Alexander Newley, the painter, said of his mother Joan Collins that she was ‘not entirely suited to motherhood… my mother wasn’t a monster, she was a narcissist. I can’t remember her hugging me’.The task was delegated — as it has been for many upperclass Englishmen — to a rather odd-sounding nanny.Then again, there are some mothers who do love their children, but can’t grasp the idea of being in charge of them.Take this week’s startling revelations from the police about being often called in to control children as young as eight running riot or fighting.And note how the mother in such cases frequently says pathetically: ‘I wanted to be their friend.’ Alas, that’s not quite the same job. Not for the first 20 years, anyway.So on this Mothering Sunday, think of it as a job, a vocation.Perhaps an art: not like joining an army, more like sailing a boat. You have to know when to go with the tide and when to struggle against it, spot rocks ahead, see where the wind blows, survive groundings, do quick repairs and, above all, understand your vessel.Don’t ask too much of it or too little, and spot when it is a bad idea to hand over the tiller to someone else. The difference is — and here’s the hard bit — that one day this boat will sail itself or find another captain, and you must wave goodbye.Animals know this: watch them turn away from their weaned puppies, kittens or piglets with undisguised relief.We can’t quite do that, because human love is more than biological. But handing over control is the last loving task of motherhood. And if we do it gracefully they don’t go far. We can end up with a lot of credit.Good heavens, even the Pope says that if anyone insults his Mum he’ll punch them. So, happy Mothering Sunday to all. You’ve earned those daffs.