FTSE steady as investors eye US jobs data

The FTSE 100 was steady in early trading with media and telecoms gains offsetting weak financial services and retail sectors.

Investors were focusing on US jobs data out later while the Eurozone debt crisis continued to dampen sentiment.

Analysts' fears that Eurozone countries and banks could struggle to tap markets for capital this year continue to cast a shadow with Italian lender UniCredit seeing its shares plunge yesterday.

Thrown into the mix were doubts over Hungary's solvency with its 10 year bonds hitting yields of ten per cent.

On London's blue chip index Vodafone was the highest climber after it was given an upgrade on its stock by Goldman Sachs. It was up two per cent, while broadcaster ITV gained more than one per cent.

Cruise ship giant Carnival was up 1.6 per cent, pub and leisure group Whitbread also edged up more than one per cent.

Luxury fashion retailer Burberry was up 1.5 per cent.

Financial services stocks were dragged down by Eurozone woes with hedge fund manager Man Group the biggest loser, down 2.2 per cent.

The fall came as both Credit Suisse and JP Morgan Cazenove reduced their target prices.

Interdealer broker Icap lost 1.5 per cent and fund manager Ashmore 1.2 per cent, after Morgan Stanley warned that the sector was under pressure.

Supermarket groups were also dented with Morrisons dipping by 1.5 per cent and Tesco around one per cent, ahead of trading updates next week.

Meanwhile Lloyds and Barclays nudged up slightly despite the cloud over their Eurozone counterparts. They were boosted by moves to recapitalise in the bloc.

In Asia the Nikkei and Hang Seng both closed around 1.1 per cent down as the Eurozone's woes had reverberations across the globe.

In the UK house prices dipped unexpectedly in December, according to figures from lender Halifax.

US nonfarm payrolls data to be released later is forecast to show that the number of jobs has increased by 150,000 in December after rising 120,000 in November.

The figures are seen as a key indicator as to the health of the US economy and whether its recovery is still on track.