FTSE dips as banks come under pressure

The FTSE 100 dipped this morning despite strong results from Xstrata and BG Group.

The index has gained in four out of the last five trading sessions - regularly surpassing the 6,000 barrier, but banking stocks were among the poorest performers today.

Commodities dipped as the price of copper came down after a record high in London.

But Xstrata was up 1.7 per cent after posting well-received results.

UK oil company BG Group's 13 per cent earnings rise gave impetus to its stock, which rose 1.3 per cent.

In other sectors Marks & Spencer was up 1.95 per cent after the retailer revealed that it had poached respected online retail guru Laura Wade-Gery from Tesco.

Computer chip maker Arm saw its recent surge end as it fell back 2.55 per cent and was the London Stock Exchange's biggest faller in early trading.

Banking stocks were also struggling with Standard Chartered slipping 1.3 per cent while Barclays and RBS also dipped, after Chancellor George Osborne confirmed the sector would be hit with a £2.5bn levy. The figure was £800m more than expected.

Insurer Standard Life was down 1.59 per cent and Prudential 1.26 per cent.

Wall Street saw a strong performance yesterday - with merger activity driving the Dow and the S&P to two-and-a-half-year highs.

Meanwhile data showing that British retail sales bounced back in January after a snow-hit December gave rise for some cheers among investors.

Analysts said that overall investors were focused on Thursday's Bank of England interest rate decision and activity and would be cautious before that crucial data.

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