Santa rally stumbles as FTSE 100 flat

The Santa rally stumbled this morning, as the blue chip index remained flat in early trading, stalled by tensions in US budget talks. Yesterday, the FTSE 100 closed just four points behind the year’s highest closing mark.

The ongoing Libor scandal, which continued in the spotlight for another day as two UBS traders were charged, had little effect on UK banking shares. Barclays dropped 0.08 per cent in early trading, but RBS rose 0.38 per cent, Lloyds Banking Group rose 3.87 per cent and HSBC was up 0.09 per cent.

Consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser led the blue chip fallers, down more than one per cent.

On the FTSE All-Share, oil companies had a poor showing. Hardy Oil and Fortune Oil fell 7.59 per cent and 4.35 per cent respectively. Miners also dragged the index down. Mexican miner Fresnillo was a blue chip faller, while African Barrick Gold and Avocet Mining fell 2.22 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively.

Leading the headline index back up was temporary power solutions firm Aggreko, which earlier this week issued a profit warning, causing its shares to tumble. It was trading around 1.8 per cent up in early deals.

Engineering firm Weir Group, which this morning announced it was to acquire pressure control rental equipment provider Mathena, rose 1.77 per cent. On the wider index, fellow engineer Vesuvius, formerly known as Cookson, rose 3.76 per cent as its shares started trading yesterday.

Healthcare firm Consort Medical added almost seven per cent in early trading as it announced it was to dispose of subsidiary King Systems.

In Asia, the Nikkei closed down 1.19 per cent, while in the US the Dow Jones closed down 0.74 per cent.