Telecoms feel pressure in FTSE

The London market was on the back foot today as telecom stocks came under yet more pressure.

The London market was on the back foot today as telecom stocks came under yet more pressure.

Despite a brief rally in early trading, by mid-morning the FTSE-100 Index was perilously close to the 5300 barrier, dropping 40.4 points to hit 5301.7.

Leading the fall were the telecom stocks, with Energis sliding 5p at 73p to top the Footsie fallers’ board.

Others telecoms heading south included Colt, off 11p at 249p, Telewest Communications, down 1¾p at 63¼p, British Telecom, 8p behind at 417p and market heavyweight Vodafone, which dropped 3p at 124½p.

Troubled telecoms equipment group Marconi was also down, sinking 2¼p to hit a new low of 67¼p.

Tech stocks also on the back foot included computer services firm Logica, off 24½p at 648½p, rival CMG, down 5½p at 235½p, and software giant Sage, which dropped 2p at 200¼p.

Also on the way down was Scottish Power, falling 9½p to 471p, after reports that Italian group Enel, the leading bidder to buy its Southern Water subsidiary, had pulled out of the contest.

The group was understood to have offered between £1.7bn and £1.8bn, including taking on £1 billion debt, according to the Financial Times.

Other fallers included BHP Billiton, slipping a 2p to 317p, as the newly merged Anglo-Australian mining giant announced full-year profits of $1.53bn (stg£1.06bn), 1% higher than the combined results for last year.

However, advertising giant WPP’s announcement that it had launched a £437 million counterbid for media buying agency Tempus, rivalling a £425m bid launched last month by French group Havas Advertising, nudged up its shares.

WPP, which also announced a rise in half-year profits and turnover, saw shares move up 1½p at 664½p.

Tempus slipped 2½p to 580p.

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