Footsie sees minor fall

The FTSE 100 Index held firm today in a lacklustre session for shares in London as markets in the United States closed for the Independence Day holiday.

The FTSE 100 Index held firm today in a lacklustre session for shares in London as markets in the United States closed for the Independence Day holiday.

The Footsie drifted just 0.9 points lower to 5883.5, while the FTSE 250 Index gained 8.8 points on a quiet day for traders in the City.

With the markets closed in New York to mark July 4, analysts said there was little reason for investors to put fresh money on to the table.

The Footsie closed last night at a seven-week high after a strong run on the back of receding interest rate fears in the US.

Shares in Marks & Spencer continued their upward march today with a gain of 11p to 598p. The retailer, which will update investors on first quarter trading next week, benefited from two more upbeat broker notes as analysts upped target prices for the company’s shares.

Fellow retailer DSG International, which owns Dixons and Currys, cheered 2.75p to 194p and Next was up 22p to 1671p.

And property companies were priced higher with British Land up 37p at 1333p, Hammerson ahead 38p at 1241p and Land Securities 51p higher at 1879p.

But Alliance & Leicester was among the fallers as the market increasingly took the view that Credit Agricole will not bid for the UK bank. Shares in A&L were 18p lower at 1149p.

Cairn Energy continued its fall after a disappointing reaction to its latest trading statement yesterday.

Shares were off 3p to 2150p today, while fellow oil producers BP and Royal Dutch Shell sank 5p to 633p and 13p to 1909p respectively.

Corus was also on the slide as speculation over consolidation of the steel industry eased despite the proposed takeover of Arcelor by Mittal.

The stock has been buoyed in recent months on the hope that it may be the subject of a takeover bid but it fell 7.5p to 450.25p today.

And AstraZeneca was on the back foot after a broker cut its rating from buy to hold. Shares in the pharmaceutical giant fell 45p to 3219p and rival GlaxoSmithKline moved 15p lower to 1506p.

Outside the top flight, shares in brewer and pubs company Greene King fell 5p to 825p despite a strong start to its new financial year. With the World Cup boosting demand, like-for-like sales at its managed pubs division grew by 5.3% in the first eight weeks of the period.

And shares in hotels group De Vere were 3p lower at 862.5p, following confirmation that entrepreneur Richard Balfour-Lynn had won the takeover battle with private equity fund Permira.

The day’s biggest blue chip risers were Hammerson up 38p to 1241p, British Land 37p stronger at 1333p, Land Securities up 51p to 1879p and Associated British Foods which gained 20.5p to 789.5p.

The heaviest fallers were Smith & Nephew off 10.5p to 412.5p, Boots down 14p to 766p, WPP which lost 11.5p to 651.5p and Corus which fell 7.5p to 450.25p.

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