FTSE ends flat as patchy earnings steal focus away from Eurozone

BRITAIN’S top share index steadied yesterday, pausing after three days of falls thanks to a mixed batch of corporate results that pitted a weak showing in Europe for GlaxoSmithKline and BT against a sterling performance for chipmaker Arm.

The international backdrop also offered conflicting signals, with weak US data on the one hand and growing hopes of fresh steps to combat the Eurozone crisis on the other.

At the close, the FTSE 100 index was broadly flat at 5,498.32 points, taking a breather after a three-session losing streak. Volume was once again weak, at two-thirds of its 90-day daily average.

GlaxoSmithKline, down 1.3 per cent, was the biggest drag on the index, as the group warned that sales in 2012 will be flat and posted below-forecast second-quarter results due to weakness in the European markets.

A lacklustre showing in crisis-hit Europe also hurt performance at telecom group BT, down 3.3 per cent as its quarterly results came in below analysts' forecasts.

Results were not always the top focus, though. Tullow Oil shed 6.3 per cent in heavy volumes, as investors focused on risks and costs associated with its proposed Uganda development, shrugging off an in-line rise in first half profits.

On the upside, ARM Holdings, up 8.6 per cent, was the top gainer trading in high volume of almost twice its 90-day daily average, with the chip designer's results beating market expectations as demand for its low power chips in smartphones and tablets outstripped the industry. Banks were also among the gainers.