FTSE slips in morning trading

UK banking stocks slipped into the red today as the full level of public sector support for the financial sector was revealed.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said the total drag on the public purse runs to £850bn (€564.345bn) if state guarantees and insurance are taken into account.

Across the wider market shares retreated, with the FTSE 100 Index down 36.5 points to 5276.5 as traders awaited key economic data from the US later in the session.

Unemployment figures are likely to give an indication of the health of the world’s largest economy, amid forecasts for a further increase in job losses. Wall Street was expected to open largely flat, but that could change if the report deviates from consensus.

In London, banks helped drag the Footsie lower, with Standard Chartered the chief faller after the sector was also hit by a lukewarm broker note from JP Morgan.

Standard shares fell 4%, down 67.5p to 1502.5p.

The fall also coincided with reports that Royal Bank of Scotland expected to pay its investment bankers substantially less than rival institutions after bowing to Government pressure. RBS shares were off 0.9p at 34.3p, while Lloyds Banking Group slipped 1.95p to 53.5p.

Airline shares climbed following low-cost carrier easyJet’s report of a sharp rise in bookings, while British Airways also benefited from a broker upgrade.

BA rose more than 1% or 2.5p to 208.7p – after Citigroup changed its recommendation from hold to buy.

Meanwhile, easyJet said passenger numbers rose by 12.2% to 3.35 million in November. The budget airline’s shares were 2p higher at 382.2p following the update.

Housebuilders were out of favour in the FTSE 250 after updates from Berkeley Group and Bellway.

The pair were down despite improved trading as investors focused on their caution over the state of the property market. Berkeley fell 33p to 859p, while Bellway dropped 5.5p to 758.5p, but the second tier’s biggest faller was Redrow, off 4% – or 5.8p at 132.6p.

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