Bright start for FTSE as sugar firm prices go sour

Concerns over Tate & Lyle failed to overshadow a bright start for the London market today.

Concerns over Tate & Lyle failed to overshadow a bright start for the London market today.

The sugar and starch group fell nearly 7%, or 43.5p to 601.5p, as the firm warned over continued oversupply in the EU sugar market and the prospect of modest growth for sweetener Splenda.

The wider London market enjoyed stronger-than-expected progress, putting back yesterday’s losses to stand 28.6 points higher at 6635.3 by mid-morning. The improvement came despite a lacklustre session on Wall Street.

Power companies were in favour ahead of the Government’s energy review, with coal-fired operator Drax leading the risers. The stock was ahead 29.5p at 825p, with United Utilities 11.5p stronger at 787p.

Mobile phone giant Vodafone also gave the market momentum, lifting by nearly 4% or 5.5p to 150.1p, as City watchers anticipated bumper profits from the company next week.

Credit checking business Experian joined the risers board, up 6.5p to 592p after it impressed analysts with a 13% rise in revenues and the prospect of acceleration in growth over the second half of this financial year.

Other Footsie fallers included inter-dealer broker Icap, off 15.25p to 514.75p as the firm was hit by the weakness of the US dollar.

Ex-dividend stocks, meaning that shareholders are not entitled to the latest dividend, also accounted for falls from retailer Next, off 44p to 2256p, consumer giant Unilever, down 22p at 1560p, and Argos owner Home Retail Group, which fell 5.5p to 474p.

Outside the top flight, Comet owner Kesa Electricals lost ground after posting like-for-like sales growth of 4.3% in the three months to April 30. Shares were down 1.5p at 345.5p, as investors remained wary in light of comments from the company about “uncertain” consumer confidence in the UK.

Durex maker SSL International, on the front foot in the previous session following strong full-year results, slipped back 11.25p to 431.75p after a downgrade from Credit Suisse.

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