FTSE ends tough day in the black

FTSE ends tough day in the black

London’s leading shares index struggled to make significant progress today as fears over growth in China and the rumbling eurozone debt crisis troubled investors.

The FTSE 100 Index spent most of the day in the red after trade figures pointed towards a slowdown in the explosive growth experienced in China – but the top flight managed to close 5.2 points higher at 5892.8.

The country’s manufacturers are being hit by weaker overseas demand amid Europe’s debt crisis, which was also in focus once again after comments from the German finance minister that Greece was likely to need a third bailout.

However, the pound slipped to 1.18 against the euro, which was strengthened after Greece completed its bond swap deal over the weekend. The pound fell against the dollar to 1.58, as the greenback was boosted by its safe haven status.

Commodity stocks were weakened by the fears of slower growth in China, with Vedanta Resources off 52p at 1369p and Rio Tinto down 58.5p to 3450.5p.

It was also a poor session for banks, with Royal Bank of Scotland down 0.8p to 25.37p, Barclays off 4.9p to 235.9p and Lloyds Banking Group 0.7p lower at 33.7p.

Insurer Aviva was also down 4.9p at 356.5p but rival Prudential moved in the opposite direction after it was reported to be working on plans to open a general insurance business in Brazil.

The speculation, which came on the eve of its full-year results, helped shares rise 7.5p to 728p.

The biggest riser in the FTSE 100 Index was supermarket chain Morrisons, which climbed 2% or 6.8p to 301.6p, on the day it met analysts in St Albans to show off planned improvements to its store formats.

Another big riser was cruise ship firm Carnival, which climbed 28p to 1947p after Exane BNP Paribas said figures on Friday offered signs that the impact of the Costa Concordia disaster on future bookings may be easing.

Elsewhere, engineering group GKN was 1.5p lower at 211p amid speculation that it is about to spend £800m on Volvo’s aircraft business.

Redditch-based GKN is now seen as the frontrunner for the operation after Germany’s leading engine maker, MTU Aero Engines, dropped out of the auction process started by Volvo in November.

Meanwhile, Game Group lost around two-thirds of its value after signalling it was in danger of collapse.

Game’s options in its battle for survival include selling its UK business but with two weeks until its quarterly rent bill it is looking increasingly possible that it will go into administration.

Suppliers have pulled the plug on a number of products and Game admitted that it was not sure whether any rescue would result in value for shareholders.

Shares, which have slid from 70p at the start of 2011, were down 1.3p at 2.2p, giving it a market value of just £4.5m.

The biggest Footsie risers were Morrisons up 6.8p at 301.6p, British Land ahead 9.6p at 496.3p, Unilever up 40p at 2107p and Kingfisher ahead 4.6p at 286.8p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Vedanta Resources down 52p at 1369p, Royal Bank of Scotland off 0.8p at 25.4p, Essar Energy down 2.7p at 108.3p and Barclays off 4.9p at 235.9p.

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