Minutes from the Fed’s January meeting, also released yesterday, remained in line with expectations; The central bank is in no rush to cut interest rates and needs more proof that inflation is tamed.

The FTSE 100 ended Wednesday’s session down 0.8%, hampered by financials after disappointing results from HSBC. The index is hovering around zero this morning.

Lloyds Banking Group launched a £2.0 billion share buyback program following a stronger-than-expected profit in the fourth quarter of 2023. The British lender reported pretax profit of £1.775 billion for the quarter ending December 31, surpassing the £1.65 billion consensus. However, net income fell to £4.23 billion £4.69 billion in the previous year, missing the £4.43 billion estimate.

Rio Tinto's 2023 profitability fell short of expectations, with sales and adjusted operating profit at $54 billion and $15 billion, respectively. Iron Ore remained a highlight, with strong performance despite challenges in Aluminium and Copper. The company is targeting aggressive medium-term growth spend and focusing on projects like Simandou and Oyu Tolgoi for future growth.

In other corporate news, Rolls-Royce Holdings hailed a "step-change" in performance for the last year but not resume dividend payments. Hargreaves Lansdown reported a rise in revenue but a decline in half-year profit. Galliford signed three new infrastructure contracts totaling almost £100 million.

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