Little movement for FTSE

Little movement for FTSE

The FTSE 100 Index just managed to keep its head above water today after spending much of the session in the red following mixed economic data from the US and concerns over European debt.

The London market closed five points higher at 5578, after slipping close to the 5500 mark during earlier trading.

Markets on both sides of the Atlantic wavered after the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond reported a decline in America's manufacturing activity in August.

But optimism was boosted by the S&P Case-Shiller home-price indexes, which revealed a rise in US home prices in July, although this was offset by a report from The Conference Board, a private research group, which said its index of consumer confidence fell to 48.5 this month from 53.2 in August.

Investor confidence was still reeling after yesterday's ratings downgrade on Anglo Irish Bank, one of Europe's more troubled lenders, heightening fears over a European debt crisis.

The mixed economic data saw the pound hold against the dollar at 1.58, but slip against the Euro to 1.16.

In London, holiday firms were among the biggest casualties after Thomas Cook warned it was making "substantial" cost cuts in the UK amid difficult trading and following an unexpected £10m (€11.64m) hit to profits.

Thomas Cook fell 6% in the FTSE 250, off 11.6p to 171.7p, which impacted its top tier counterpart TUI Travel, down 2.8p to 218.4p.

Hedge fund giant Man Group was another blue-chip loser, off 5.2p to 214.1p, after it said interim profits would be around 26% lower than a year earlier.

In the FTSE 250, mortgage lender Paragon soared 3%, a 5.8p gain to 169.1p, as it said it would restart buy-to-let lending for the first time since the financial crisis.

Elsewhere, sportswear retailer JJB Sports dropped 12% - or 1.4p to 9.5p - after revealing moves to ramp up cut-price promotions to offset difficult trading conditions.

Rival and Sports World parent Sports Direct International was enjoying better fortunes, up 6.1p to 137.8p.

But housebuilder Barratt Developments suffered after a broker downgrade from Morgan Stanley, with shares dropping 2.6p to 101.4p, despite more positive comments on the UK market as a whole.

Video games and console retailer Game Group was also seeing heavy falls after worse-than-expected half-year losses. It swung into the red by £18.8m (€21.88m) against underlying profits of £14.5m (€16.88m) a year earlier.

Shares fell 11%, or 7.2p to 58.5p, despite company hopes for a better second half.

Irn Bru maker AG Barr was another to lose ground, down 21p to 1230p as investors took profits after the group announced a 19% leap in half-year profits.

The biggest Footsie risers were Sage group, up 13.7p to 280p, Prudential, ahead 22p at 637.5p, Resolution, up 8.3p at 244.2p, and Essar Energy, ahead 14.2p at 452.7p.

The biggest Footsie losers were Man Group, down 5.2p at 214.1p, BAE Systems, off 8.1p at 338.3p, Hammerson, down 8.6p at 395p and Wolseley, off 25p at 1495p.

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