FTSE falls below 5000 landmark

The FTSE 100 Index ended the week below the 5000 mark today after disappointing unemployment data in the United States.

The FTSE 100 Index ended the week below the 5000 mark today after disappointing unemployment data in the United States.

The Footsie inched 5.6 points lower to close at 4999.4 despite earlier attempts to remain in the black.

US stocks fell on concerns about slowing economic growth after government figures showed employers recording the smallest gain in jobs last month since August 2003.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average responded negatively, dipping about 50 points by the close in London.

Bookmaker William Hill was a blue-chip riser – up 1% or 6.5p to 525.5p. Traders said it was lifted by bullish comments on the online gaming sector by poker group PartyGaming, which announced its flotation plans yesterday.

British Airways was heading in the opposite direction, down 3.25p to 270p, after announcing that it carried 3.02 million passengers on its scheduled services in May 2005 – a 0.1% increase on its May 2004 total.

Elsewhere, shares in model railways group Hornby lost earlier gains following positive results. The stock dropped 5p to 207.5p after it announced a 16% rise in annual profits and a positive assessment of current trading.

Shares in entertainment group Sanctuary lifted slightly – up 0.25p to 43.75p - as it revealed it had been in talks about a possible takeover of the firm.

The company, whose portfolio of artists includes Morrissey and Iron Maiden, said it was in preliminary talks that could lead to an offer or “further business opportunity”.

Media group SMG cheered investors by sounding an upbeat note about its prospects today, despite recent signs that advertisers were becoming more cautious. The owner of Virgin Radio said it had not yet seen any evidence of a major downturn in advertising spending, boosting its stock a penny to 92.75p.

The highest Footsie climbers today were Yell up 8.75p to 425p, Compass rising 4.25p to 224p, Shire Pharmaceuticals up 11p to 589p and BAE Systems adding 4.5p to 277.5p.

The heaviest fallers were 3i losing 13p to 691p, Barclays off 9p to 520p, Corus down 0.75p to 45p and British Airways losing 3.25p to 270p.

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