FTSE resilient despite Greek deal fears

The FTSE 100 proved resilient this morning as strong corporate results shored up the index despite falls on other markets across the globe.

European shares overall steadied after two straight days of losses as investors braced for news on whether Greece would succeed in restructuring its huge debt pile.

The Greek bond swap deal must be agreed by the end of tomorrow. If fewer than 75 per cent of creditors accept the offer, the deal could be off, potentially plunging the Eurozone back into crisis.

Gloomy economic data also cast a shadow as Australia reported economic output in the last quarter of 2011 that was way below expectations, adding to concerns about a slowdown in China with the release of key US jobs data due at the end of the week beginning to loom large.

The three main US equity indexes recorded their biggest one-day percentage drop this year yesterday, while a key risk measure, the CBOE Volatility index (VIX) jumped nearly 16 per cent, reflecting a drop in appetite for riskier assets.

But the FTSE 100 opened on the front foot with insurer Admiral jumping by more than 11 per cent after reporting strong results, fuelled by an upturn in its UK sales.

Oil services company Petrofac was up 1.6 per cent after yesterday reporting a profit jump in 2011.

BAE Systems nudged up by 2.2 per cent after being awarded new contracts while engineer IMI also gained more than two per cent.

Also in the ascendancy was miner Eurasian, up 1.4 per cent.

In banking Lloyds was up 0.5 per cent and Barclays 0.2 per cent while RBS was flat.

Meanwhile HSBC said it had agreed to sell its general insurance businesses to French insurer AXA Group and Australia's QBE Insurance Group for £581m.

Its shares edged up 0.8 per cent after the announcement.

On the down side British American Tobacco was off by 2.9 per cent making it the steepest faller on London's blue chip index.

The drop followed a downgrade on its stock by Investec over fears that its strong run is about to slow.

Cairn Energy, which is facing falling out of the FTSE 100 in an upcoming review, was down by one per cent.

Outsourcer Serco dipped by 0.8 per cent and Shell 0.5 per cent.

In Asia the Nikkei closed down 0.6 per cent and the Hang Seng 0.8 per cent.

Attention will be on German industrial goods orders in January, due later, which are expected to increase 0.5 per cent after rising a more-than-expected 1.7 per cent in December.