FTSE shored up by strong blue chip results
The FTSE 100 was flat in early trading as better than expected US manufacturing figures were offset by the bleak picture in the Eurozone.
US manufacturing expanded at its fastest pace for 10 months fuelling confidence in the recovery of the world’s largest economy. However, the Eurozone’s manufacturing sector slipped further into decline last month, figures out this morning showed.
Strong UK corporate results helped keep the London market steady in early trading. Next was the top performer on the blue chip index, up 2.2 per cent after a resilient trading update, while luxury retailer Burberry also lifted by just over one per cent.
Satellite broadcaster BSkyB was ahead by 2.1 per cent after posting record third-quarter profits. Another top riser was packaging giant Rexam, up 1.2 per cent. Sugar and sweeteners company Tate & Lyle nudged up by a similar level.
Ex-dividend factors knocked 3.43 points off the FTSE 100 with Admiral Group, ARM Holdings, Barclays, Croda International, ITV, Kingfisher, Weir Group and Xstrata all trading without their payout attraction.
Home Retail Group fell more than five per cent after the Argos owner said its full year profit was down 60 per cent. The company also scrapped its dividend.
Hedge find giant Man Group was off by more than two per cent as the company continues to struggle. Shareholders yesterday staged a revolt over a $7m package awarded to chief executive Peter Clarke despite the company’s sinking share price.
In banking Barclays was the biggest loser, down by more than two per cent. Asia-focused Standard Chartered also dropped by two per cent after reporting a single digit rise in income. The bank said it was planning growth in China and was upbeat on the year ahead.
RBS dipped by 0.4 per cent while Lloyds was pegged back by 1.5 per cent. In European banking UBS reported a halving of profits.
In Asia the Nikkei closed up 0.3 per cent while the Hang Seng nudged up by just over one per cent.
Meanwhile approvals for home loans in Britain rose unexpectedly in March, suggesting the housing market continued to recover despite the end of a tax exemption for first-time buyers, Bank of England data showed.