Little change for FTSE

The London market struggled for direction today as the UK's Pre-Budget Report failed to shock while concerns continued over the world economic recovery.

Many banks registered gains despite confirmation from the British government on plans for a one-off tax on bonuses in the sector.

But the FTSE 100 Index closed 19.2 points down at 5203.9 amid bruised sentiment in the wake of a credit downgrade on Greece, while doubts over Dubai's debts lingered.

Tim Hughes, head of sales trading at IG Index, said the London market reacted with "little more than mild indifference" to the Budget report.

He said a "tone of hesitancy" pervaded because of concerns over Greek debts and doubts over Dubai's debt restructuring plans.

In London a strong trading update from Asia-facing Standard Chartered set the mood, after it predicted record levels of income and operating profits due to wholesale banking.

Standard was one of the top-flight's chief risers, with a near 2% gain, up 25p at 1462p.

The sector was also helped by Standard's comments that its exposure to the Dubai debt crisis was unlikely to be material.

Despite the bonus tax, Lloyds Banking Group was another main winner, up 0.92p at 54.69p, while HSBC added 3.9p to 699p.

But shares in Royal Bank of Scotland dipped 0.125p to 30.325p in the wake of steep falls yesterday, amid fears that its board will resign in a showdown over the Government's control of its remuneration strategy.

Barclays also failed to enjoy the sector's rise, losing 9.4p to 278.1p

Meanwhile, property investment firm Segro topped the risers board with a 11.8p gain to 333.3p after an upgrade from JP Morgan.

Some miners weighed on the market, led by Fresnillo, which dropped 27p to 793p. This came as commodity prices remained off highs seen in recent weeks.

But others in the sector - including Xstrata, up 20p at 1054p - were heading in the opposite direction.

Tesco was one of the market's big fallers after yesterday's third quarter sales figures revealed the grocery giant is still lagging behind competitors. Shares dropped 10.8p to 414.65p.

In the FTSE 250 Index, spread betting firm IG Group set the pace after it flagged up strong first half profits and said bad debts were back under control after peaking during last year's financial crisis. Shares were 20.1p higher at 360p, a gain of 6%.

Transport group Stagecoach was also a second-tier gainer, lifting 7.9p to 157.8p after first half profits came in ahead of City hopes. The South West Trains operator also said it had earmarked an extra £20m (€22m) in savings at its UK rail business.

Second-tier fallers included easyJet after the airline announced the June departure of highly-respected chief executive Andy Harrison. The company also revealed Sir Michael Rake as its new chairman, but shares were off 17p at 359.9p, a drop of nearly 5%.

The biggest Footsie risers were Segro up 11.8p at 333.3p, Xstrata up 20p at 1054p, Standard Chartered up 25p at 1462p and Rio Tinto up 53p at 3140p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Old Mutual down 6.2p at 104p, Man Group down 12.4p at 304.3p, Fresnillo off 27p at 793p and Barclays down 9.4p at 278.1p.

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