FTSE down on Verizon denial

THE TOP share index slid back this morning, as heavyweight telecoms group Vodafone slumped as US joint venture partner Verizon denied it was mounting a bid for the company.

Shares in Vodafone fell 1.7 per cent in early trading.

"European indices have pulled back from yesterday’s highs this morning following a denial from US firm Verizon that they were interested in a full takeover of UK telecommunications giant Vodafone," said Matt Basi, head of UK sales trading at CMC Markets.

But the FTSE 100 was dragged further down by Kazakh miner Eurasian Natural Resources, which shed 10.1 per cent. Last week its shares slid as FTSE 250-listed Kazakhmys said it took a $2.22bn write-down on its stake in ENRC.

Insurer Standard Life fell 5.5 per cent as it emerged yesterday that three top executives were rewarded with a combined pay packet of £11.8m for 2012.

Russian steelmaker Evraz sank 4.7 per cent. Yesterday it said it had bought a £104m majority stake in an iron ore project.

Elsewhere, insurer RSA and miner Fresnillo fell 4.6 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively.

Leading the index back up again was Indian-focused miner Vedanta, up 3.5 per cent. This morning it said it had won its appeal over the closure of a copper smelter in India.

Fund house Schroders rose 3.1 per cent, while temporary power provider Aggreko added 1.5 per cent.

Spirits maker Diageo finished off the top five risers, up 1.2 per cent in early deals.

Banking shares were mainly in negative territory this morning. HSBC fell 0.6 per cent, RBS was off 1.4 per cent and Barclays sank 0.5 per cent. Only Lloyds Banking Group chalked up a gain of 0.1 per cent.