FTSE solid as investors eye US jobs data

The FTSE 100 started out on the front foot today as investors awaited key US jobs data to assess the strength of the country's economic recovery.

Positive performances on Asian markets and on Wall Street buoyed sentiment in London with the non farms payroll figures to set the tone for trading later.

Greece will also be in the spotlight with the IMF poised to give the green light to another payment to keep Greece afloat.

Meanwhile corporate news has been dominated by the phone hack scandal which triggered the axing of the News of the World.

David Cameron called an emergency press conference in which he pledged an inquiry led by a judge into the scandal, while he accepted responsibility for bringing former News of the World editor Andy Coulson "into the heart of government" as his press secretary.

Shares in BSkyB edged higher as investors weighed up whether Rupert Murdoch's decision to shut the News of the World newspaper in response to a hacking scandal would do much to help his battle to take full control of the satellite broadcaster.

The stock was up 0.1 per cent after falls yesterday but other rival media stocks jumped with Trinity Mirror up 12 per cent and the Daily Mail Group four per cent.

But building services giant Wolseley was the biggest climber, up 1.5 per cent. Retailer Marks & Spencer was also given a lift with its stock putting on more than one per cent.

Among financial shares insurer Old Mutual and Barclays Bank both rose around 0.8 per cent. British Land also edged up after announcing its purchase of 17 Virgin Active sites for £179m.

Meanwhile Tate & Lyle rose 0.7 per cent after announcing a buyback of its own shares yesterday.

Energy companies and miners were the biggest losers in early trading.

Miner Vedanta was down 1.89 per cent while Cairn Energy slipped 1.1 per cent.

British Gas owner Centrica dropped 0.7 per cent while water company Severn Trent was down by 0.7 per cent. Another stock to nudge down was chipmaker Arm Holdings, which lost 1.1 per cent.

In the UK retail sector John Lewis - whose figures are considered a bellwether for the performance of the high street - reported that their department store sales fell by 3.4 year-on-year in the week's trading to 2 July.