FTSE traders cautious

Traders sounded a note of caution today as the FTSE 100 Index retreated from its 30-month high in the wake of a number of gloomy business updates.

Traders sounded a note of caution today as the FTSE 100 Index retreated from its 30-month high in the wake of a number of gloomy business updates.

Nervousness that the index was moving too high was blamed for a fall of 16.3 points in the Footsie, which stood at 4837.8 by mid-morning.

Updates from William Hill, Taylor Woodrow and Northern Foods did little for the overall mood after all three guided profits expectations lower.

William Hill put investors on standby for figures towards the bottom of the City’s range after punters enjoyed a run of success, particularly involving the results of Premiership teams Chelsea and Manchester United.

Despite the gloomy forecast, the market took the update in its stride with William Hill recovering from a poor start to stand 4p higher at 549.5p.

Northern Foods and Taylor Woodrow – both FTSE 250 stocks – were less fortunate after issuing their trading updates.

Northern disappointed investors by saying full-year profits would be £6m (€8.6m) lower than last year. The stock weakened 5.5p to 166p as it said poorer sales to Marks & Spencer had left Christmas trading short of expectations.

And Taylor Woodrow was hit after it said the recent cooling in the UK property market had left annual profits towards the bottom end of City hopes.

At one point Taylor shares were off 4% but recovered to stand 2.25p lower at 259p.

Elsewhere in the sector, Redrow lost 6p to 370p, Wilson Bowden fell 32.5p to 1071p and McCarthy & Stone dropped 14.5p to 575p.

Back in the top flight, banking giant Barclays led the risers with a gain of 2% after a newspaper report linked it to a possible merger with American rival Wells Fargo. Shares rose 8.5p to 605.5p.

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