FTSE 100 down as BAE and EADS in the spotlight

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blue chip index was trading slightly down this morning, as the mega-merger between BAE Systems and EADS grabbed the headlines. Investors were also cautious ahead of a key policy decision from the US Federal Reserve, which is expected later.

Publisher Centaur was a big riser in early deals, up 11.56 per cent, on news that pre-tax profits were up 23 per cent over the past year.

Electronic component supplier Premier Farnell jumped 5.36 per cent, despite it reporting this morning that profit slipped in its second quarter.

Dunelm, which also reported solid numbers today, was up 3.76 per cent.

East-Africa focused oil and gas firm Ophir Energy rose 3.61 per cent in early trading. Over the past few weeks it has reported upbeat resource estimates, which has helped to flatter its share price.

Retailers had a tough morning.

Clothing retailer Next led the FTSE 100 down in early trading, down 5.76 per cent. Although it reported an increase in profit this morning, it added that sales in August and September were “disappointing”.

BAE Systems slipped 4.84 per cent as it confirmed talks of a possible merger with defence giant EADS.

Storage firm Safestore fell 4.81 per cent, in spite of it reporting increased revenue in its third quarter.

Retailers JD Sports and Home Retail dropped 2.9 per cent and 2.62 per cent respectively. Home Retail, which owns Argos and Homebase, said this morning that sales in the three months to September dropped 3.9 per cent.

UK financials were a mixed bag in early deals. HSBC was down 0.44 per cent and RBS dropped 0.8 per cent, while Lloyds Banking Group was up 4.26 per cent and Barclays rose 0.51 per cent.

In Asia, the Nikkei closed 0.39 per cent up and in the US the Dow Jones closed up 0.07 per cent.