FTSE keeps its head above 4,700 barrier

The London market struggled to stay above the 4700 barrier today after renewed weakness in the US dollar compounded some disappointing corporate results.

The London market struggled to stay above the 4700 barrier today after renewed weakness in the US dollar compounded some disappointing corporate results.

Confidence never recovered from the warning by pest control specialist Rentokil Initial that trading remained tough and its profits were set to continue to fall next year.

With annual results from catering giant Compass at the bottom end of hopes and the US dollar hitting another record low against the euro, the FTSE 100 Index closed 46.6 points lower at 4703.2.

This was its lowest finish since the start of this month and analysts warned that December could prove to be equally tough for investors.

Little inspiration was provided across the Atlantic today where some weak consumer confidence data overshadowed US economic growth data, which was marginally better than expected.

In London, services group Rentokil Initial led the Footsie fallers after its latest downbeat trading update, easing 5% or 8p to 142p.

It was followed by Compass – off 11.25p at 229.25p – after annual results only met the lower end of the City’s recently revised forecasts.

Northern Rock’s trading statement did little for the banking sector, despite the mortgage specialist sticking by market forecasts for profits growth in the region of 12%.

The North East based group was unchanged 725p, while Barclays fell 3.5p to 540p and Lloyds TSB eased 4.5p to 421.25p.

Companies with large US operations continued to feel the impact of the weak greenback, which fell to a new low of 1.3336 against the euro before bouncing back slightly.

Pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca finished the session off 50p to 2045p and rival GlaxoSmithKline lost 24p to 1101p, while BAE Systems slipped 1.75p to 245.25p.

Mining companies were also in the red, with Anglo American slipping 28p to 1270p. BHP Billiton was also down 5.5p to 612p and Xstrata retreated 12p to 929p.

There was better news from Enterprise Inns, however, after the pubs group said its recent acquisition of the Unique Pub Company had gone well and helped lift annual profits by 33% to £231.2 million. Shares rose 3%, up 20.5p to 683p.

Outside the top flight, tile and flooring specialist Topps Tiles was upbeat after posting record annual profits as the growing trend for conservatories, larger dining areas and second bathrooms fuelled demand for tiles. Shares in the FTSE 250 Index company advanced 7% or 14.5p to 228p.

But ice cream maker Richmond Foods was slightly lower despite hailing the success of new Yorkie and Toffee Crisp bars as it unwrapped a 34% hike in annual profits to £14 million. Shares weakened 3.5p to 566.5p.

The highest risers in the Footsie today were Enterprise Inns up 20.5p to 683p, Friends Provident rising 3p to 153.25p, Sage Group up 3.75p to 193p and Man Group rising 17p to 1490p.

The heaviest fallers were Rentokil Initial off 8p to 142p, Compass Group down 11.25p to 229.25p, Cairn Energy off 37p to 1500p and AstraZeneca down 50p to 2045p.

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