Euro worries push banks down, leave FTSE flat

THE FTSE tipped up to 5897 briefly this afternoon but sank again to close flat at 5882, dogged by Eurozone worries and poor performances by the banks.

Barclays was the top FTSE100 faller, down 3.7 per cent as worries resurfaced over European sovereign debt, caused by Moody’s announcement that it was reviewing Spain’s credit rating, and fears over Belgium.

RBS also slipped on reports that more of the FSA inquiry into its near collapse may be made public.

And British Airways lost two per cent on news that its cabin crew union would ballot members next week over fresh strike action.

But analysts said markets may find it hard to break into further gains as the year comes to an end.

“There is some fairly significant resistance on the FTSE coming up around 5,930 and that might provide a bit of a barrier,” said David Morrison, market strategist at GFT Global.

“The December doldrums have officially arrived,” said Spreadex trader Christopher Purdy.

Capital Shopping Centres was the top FTSE 100 riser, up 4.9 per cent after it rejected a 425p per share offer by US mall owner Simon Property.

Travel operator Experian rose 2.65 per cent to close at 812.5p and Weir Group closed up 2.1 per cent at 1,801p.

Whitbread added 1.95 per cent to finish at 1,774p after a positive update from Nomura, which raised its earnings forecast, said Michael Hewson, market analyst at CMC Markets.

In the FTSE250 the largest faller was Supergroup, the makers of Superdry clothing, despite announcing pre tax profit of £14.6m, as it indicated a tough retail outlook.

“This could well be setting the scene for retailers this Christmas,” Hewson said.

Upbeat US economic data helped the FTSE gain ground in the afternoon though could not fend off a drop at market close.

US markets also ended low after another late-day sell off, suggesting it may be difficult to chalk further gains as the year comes to a close.

“The biggest fallers have been commodity stocks with Alcoa and ExxonMobil falling on lower commodity prices, while the key risers have been industrials like Caterpillar,” Hewson said.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 19.07 points, to end at 11,457. The S&P 500 fell 6.35 points to finish at 1,235 and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 10.50 points to close at 2,617.