FTSE in negative territory

Property-based stocks combined with weaker oil companies to drag the FTSE 100 Index into negative territory today.

Property-based stocks combined with weaker oil companies to drag the FTSE 100 Index into negative territory today.

British Land was the heaviest faller as first half results failed to impress investors, and was followed lower by Land Securities and Hammerson.

While the top flight has been on a winning streak in recent days – closing at levels not seen since the summer of 2001 – this came to an end as the Footsie stood 28.4 points lower at 5503.3 by mid-morning.

Analysts said the lacklustre session also reflected comments from Bank of England Governor Mervyn King, as he told the Treasury select committee about his continued concerns over the inflationary impact of high oil prices.

While the cost of a barrel of oil was just below $59 today, Royal Dutch Shell and BP were both 1% lower – off 17p and 5.5p at 1922p and 652p respectively.

Mining firms helped offset some of the weakness with BHP Billiton the highest blue-chip riser, up 11.5p to 886.5p, while Rio Tinto added 6p to 2390p.

However, British Land weakened 3%, off 35.5p to 991p, and was followed into the red by Land Securities, down 37p at 1559p and Hammerson losing 19p to 969p.

Much of today’s activity was outside the top flight, where retailer Halfords cheered investors with news that like-for-like sales had improved in recent weeks. Shares lifted almost 7% or 21p to 322p.

But elsewhere on the high street, Kesa Electricals was in negative spirits, down 8.5p to 242p, after reporting a fall in third quarter sales.

Commercial radio operator GCap Media was also in the doldrums after it sacrificed millions of pounds in revenues by answering pleas for fewer ad breaks. The owner of Capital and Classic slumped 17%, off 57p to 284p.

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