FTSE still in positive territory

FTSE still in positive territory

The FTSE 100 Index remained in positive territory for the seventh straight session today, but stocks trod water as US markets remained shut for the Labor Day holiday.

London’s Footsie closed 11 points up at 5439.2, with markets across Europe also holding onto gains thanks to Friday’s better-than-expected jobs figures in the United States.

Last week’s US non-farm payrolls showed 54,000 jobs were lost over August against forecasts for more than 100,000, which sent the Footsie and Dow Jones Industrial Average in America up 1% on Friday.

Gains in Asia put the markets on the front foot again today, although America’s Labor Day holiday limited the potential for a further advance in London.

In currency news, the pound fell across the board, slumping to a six week low against the euro on ongoing fears over the UK recovery.

Sterling fell to just under 1.20 euros and dropped 0.3% to 1.54 against the US dollar.

With Wall Street shut and little in the way of corporate news, market attention was focused on takeover rumours surrounding Cable & Wireless Worldwide.

Reports suggested Singapore’s SingTel was lining up a buyout bid and had contacted bankers in Asia and Europe to discuss it.

However, shares in the telecoms firm C&WW failed to hold on to the gains as the speculation fizzled out, leaving the group 0.2p lower to close at 72.75p.

Shares in Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail Group were 5.8p higher at 227.1p after broker Seymour Pierce upgraded the stock from sell to hold.

The retailer, which is due to post a trading update on Thursday, is in danger of relegation from the top flight when the latest reshuffle of the FTSE 100 Index takes place later this week.

Other blue-chip risers included oil giant BP after the US Government said the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico had been secured and no longer constituted a threat. Shares were 4.8p higher at 406.5p, a gain of more than 1%.

But drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline was in the red, down 19.5p to 1249p, as it faced UK regulatory calls to withdraw its under-fire diabetes drug Avandia over ongoing fears surrounding heart risk concerns.

Heavyweight miners joined Glaxo on the Footsie fallers board, with Kazakhmys down 17p to 1268p and Eurasian Natural Resources off 9.5p to 875.5p.

Elsewhere, five-a-side football group Goals Soccer Centres scored a 5% hike after a 5.5p increase to 121p as it reported an improvement in recent sales thanks to a World Cup bounce.

While sales dropped 3% in the first half of 2010, the group has seen a 3% rise since June.

The biggest Footsie risers were Home Retail Group up 5.8p to 227.1p, Tullow Oil ahead 26p to 1182p, BT Group up 3p to 140.6p and Capital Shopping Centres up 6.6p to 358.4p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were GlaxoSmithKline down 19.5p to 1249p, Icap off 6.7p to 431.9p, Autonomy down 27p to 1748p and Smith & Nephew down 8p to 548p.

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