FTSE up, BA takes hit

Shares in British Airways took a hit today, amid fears that planned strike action by cabin crew staff could cost the firm as much as £100 million.

Shares in British Airways took a hit today, amid fears that planned strike action by cabin crew staff could cost the firm as much as £100 million.

The stock was 2% lower, down 9.75p to 534.75p, although the wider market made progress with the FTSE 100 Index up 29.2 points at 6266.4 by mid-morning.

A recovery for metal prices meant miners dominated the risers board, following a rise of 43p to 2381p for Anglo American and a gain of 42p to 2339p for Xstrata.

InterContinental Hotels continued to rise – up 2%, or 23p at 1323p, after it emerged a firm owned by billionaire investors David and Frederick Barclay had built a 5% stake in the company. Speculation about potential bid interest lifted the stock to record highs prior to the weekend.

One of the biggest falls of the session was achieved by building materials company Wolseley, which dived almost 2% after it said pre-tax profits for the first five months of its financial year were running 14% lower than a year ago. Margins also took a hit in the UK because of aggressive pricing.

While the company said it was still outperforming rivals in many of its markets, shares dipped 21p to 1328p.

FT publisher Pearson also lost some of its recent strength, despite reporting that it remained on track for record annual profits following continued strong performance in the fourth quarter. Shares were down 20p at 821.5p.

Outside the top flight, shares in gaming companies weakened on the decision of the US Department of Justice to subpoena a number of banks for its investigation into illegal online gambling in the US.

While the details of the move remained unclear, PartyGaming fell 2p to 28.75p a drop of more than 6%. Sportingbet was down 6%, or 2.25p to 35p.

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