FTSE steadies after Alcoa results

The FTSE 100 was flat today with aluminium giant Alcoa reporting positive results to start the US earnings season which helped steady investors' nerves.

Alcoa saw its quarterly revenue and profit beat Wall Street's expectations even though prices for its aluminium are at nearly two-year lows.

Meanwhile Eurozone finance ministers have agreed to lend Spain 30bn euros (£24bn) this month to help its floundering banks.

The money will represent the first instalment of a bailout of up to 100bn euros, which was agreed in June.

UK Manufacturing output rose by 1.2 percent in May after a 0.8 percent drop in April, the Office for National Statistics said. Economists had forecast no change on the month.

On London's blue chip index BAE Systems was the highest climber, rising by 2.2 per cent.

Credit checking giant Experian advanced 1.5 per cent while global advertising heavyweight WPP put on 1.2 per cent.

Oil services company Amec nudged up by 1.2 per cent.

In banking Barclays edged up by 0.2 per cent. The bank's chairman Marcus Agius this morning faces a grilling from MPs over the rate fixing scandal which has rocked the bank.

Lloyds and RBS were flat while HSBC was up 0.4 per cent.

M&S managed a rise of 0.8 per cent despite posting its worst underlying quarterly sales performance for three and a half years after womenswear trade was hit by the wettest April and June since records began.

On the down side in the market the world's largest caterer, Compass, was off by 3.2 per cent making it the steepest faller.

In pharmaceuticals GlaxoSmithKline dipped 2.5 per cent while iPhone chipmaker Arm Holdings was down 1.2 per cent.

Other significant losers included miners Frensillo and Antofagasta, which were both off by one per cent.

But FTSE 250-miner Centamin was up more than three per cent after it said total gold production at its Sukari gold mine in Egypt was a record 67,422 ounces for the quarter.

And British online fashion retailer Asos nudged up by 11 per cent after posting a 31 per cent rise in first-quarter retail sales, buoyed by a strong performance in the US and Australia and an improving UK.

In Asia the Nikkei closed down 0.4 per cent and the Hang Seng 0.1 per cent.