Lacklustre day for FTSE

The London market struggled to get going today despite renewed speculation that Cadbury Schweppes was being eyed up for a possible takeover bid.

The company best known for its Dairy Milk chocolate bars saw its shares lift 2% – 12p to 576.5p – as Nestlé and Kraft were named as potential suitors by analysts.

However the FTSE 100 index kept up the uncertainty of recent days as the top flight stood 8.2 points higher at 5799.7 by mid-morning.

There was a positive reception to half-year results from drinks giant Diageo, with the company behind Guinness and Smirnoff vodka seeing its shares lift 1% to 864.5p following a better-than-expected 7% rise in operating profits.

Other results today were treated less favourably as B&Q owner Kingfisher and publisher Reed Elsevier both slipped in the wake of updates.

Kingfisher dipped 5.25p to 222.75p after the weak DIY market left UK like-for-like sales 9% lower in the fourth quarter of its financial year.

And Reed Elsevier suffered from the poor performance of its educational business, which held back profits growth to 9% in 2005. Shares were at the top of the Footsie fallers board following a drop of 22.5p to 531.5p.

There was better news from Bradford & Bingley after the buy-to-let lender hit the top end of expectations with its full-year results.

Bradford is also optimistic about prospects for the year ahead, but shares fell back from an early 6.5p rise to be up by 0.75p to 451p later in the session.

A company with a licence to print money was the biggest climber in the FTSE 250 Index.

The Hampshire-based banknote producer De La Rue saw its shares rise 9% – up 42.25p to 515p – on the back of news that annual profits would be significantly ahead of expectations thanks to a series of large orders.

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