Footsie falls back

Market heavyweight Vodafone and media group Reuters were leading the downward push today as the London market fell back.

Market heavyweight Vodafone and media group Reuters were leading the downward push today as the London market fell back.

Yesterday the FTSE 100 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average soared, prompting many to predict the start of more bullish times for global equity markets.

But today conditions were more subdued and opinions mixed about how US markets would fare when trading on Wall Street begins later this afternoon.

The more cautious sentiment dragged on the FTSE 100 and by lunchtime it was sliding back towards the 4000 barrier, off 64.3 points at 4066.0.

News and information specialist Reuters was the biggest faller after sliding 42.5p at 166.5p.

The 20% decline came as it posted a fall in third-quarter revenues and remained downbeat for the coming months.

Other media companies on the back foot included pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB, off 25.5p at 547.5p, and advertising group WPP, which shed 32p at 455p.

But ITV broadcaster Granada and smaller rival Carton managed to hang onto modest gains after unveiling detailed plans for their £2.6 billion merger.

Granada inched ahead 0.25p at 75.25p while Carlton nudged up 0.5p at 130p.

The top flight telecom sector was weighing on the market, led by mobile phone giant Vodafone.

It plans to take control of France’s second largest mobile operator SFR by paying up to £8 billion to build up its stake in parent company Cegetel.

But the announcement failed to win over investors. Nearly 250 million shares changed hands and the stock fell 4p at 97p

BT shed 5.5p at 174.5p, rival mobile phone operator mmO2 dipped 2p at 47p and Cable & Wireless slumped 5.75p at 131p.

Financial stocks were also weaker, with insurer Aviva off 29.5p at 458.5p and Royal Bank of Scotland down 40p at 1475p.

Among smaller companies, menswear clothing retailer Moss Bros rose 3.5p at 34p after unveiling a forecast-beating set of interim figures.

Home shopping group N Brown also moved ahead, up a penny at 157.5p, despite its half-year results coming in at the bottom end of analyst expectations.

And Durex-maker SSL soared 13%, or 35p at 307.5p, after a trading update reassured investors sales were in line with expectations and it was on course to meet its 2003 targets.

SSL also said it had produced a good recovery and performance after last year’s depressed profits and sales.

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