FTSE slips as investors eye US growth data

THE FTSE 100 slipped in early trading as investors looked to Greece for signs of progress on a deal to save it from default and to the US where key GDP figures are due for release.

Greece and its private creditors made progress in talks on restructuring its debt yesterday with some indication given that a breakthrough is on the way.

Greece's creditors are demanding that the European Central Bank contributes to a deal to put the country's shambolic finances back on track.

Meanwhile economists are estimating that US GDP grew at a three per cent annual pace in the October-December period.

That would be a step-up from the third quarter's 1.8 per cent rate and it would be the quickest pace since the second quarter of 2010.

In London banking stocks contributed to the blue chip index being pegged back.

RBS was down just over two per cent following the announcement that chief executive Steven Hester would receive a bonus in the form of 3.2m shares worth £963,000. Lloyds was also down more than two per cent while Barclays was off by 1.5 per cent.

InterContinental Hotels Group was the steepest faller in early trading, down 2.5 per cent. Meanwhile miner Vedanta was another in negative territory, down by 2.2 per cent.

The risers were from mixed sectors with Imperial Tobacco the most significant gainer, up 1.7 per cent. Cruise ship giant Carnival edged up by 1.2 per cent, recovering some of the ground lost by the sinking of its vessel, the Concordia, in Italy.

Engineers Amec and Weir both saw a lift of around one per cent.

Meanwhile in Asia the Hang Seng and Nikkei saw slim losses.