FTSE opens flat ahead of Jackson Hole speech

The blue chip index opened modestly up this morning, as investors were cautious ahead of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s Jackson Hole speech later, where he is expected to signal more stimulus for the US economy.

Rental equipment supplier Lavendon Group led the risers, up more than nine per cent in early deals. Investors were buoyed by its half-year results, which showed pre-tax profit had doubled over the first six months of the year.

Photo booth supplier Photo-Me was up by 5.26 per cent in early trading.

Headline miners were clustered in the risers, with New World Resources, Kazakhmys and Ferrexpo adding 3.05 per cent, 2.47 per cent and 2.45 per cent respectively in early trading.

Oil and gas firm Heritage Oil was up by 3.27 per cent on the back of “overwhelming” shareholder support at its EGM to acquire a stake in a Nigerian oil field.

A mixed bag of leisure companies and retailers led the fallers this morning.

Digital entertainment group bwin.party lost 4.54 per cent as its poker division lost ground.

Computacenter, an IT infrastructure services provider, shed 2.65 per cent as it announced a fall in first-half profits.

Online shopping firm Ocado, Dixons Retail and soft furnishing group Dunelm also lost 2.43 per cent, 1.95 per cent and 1.83 per cent respectively.

UK financials enjoyed a good morning. HSBC added 0.51 per cent, RBS added 1.49 per cent and Barclays rose 0.58 per cent. Lloyds Banking Group remained flat.

In Asia, the Nikkei closed at a four-week low, down 1.6 per cent as investors backed off in advance of Bernanke’s speech. In the US, the Dow Jones closed down 0.81 per cent yesterday.