FTSE grounded

A quiet day for corporate and economic news saw the London market grounded in negative territory today.

A quiet day for corporate and economic news saw the London market grounded in negative territory today.

Investors were exercising caution following strong falls on Wall Street overnight, which saw the Dow Jones close down more than 100 points after a fresh wave of selling in bond markets and concerns over rising interest rates.

The lack of momentum meant the FTSE 100 Index was 16.1 points lower at 6504.3 in morning trading.

Banking group Alliance & Leicester was on the front foot after the firm said it was trading at the top end of expectations following strong performances across the business. The stock was ahead 17p at 1121p.

More Than insurer Royal & Sun Alliance shot to the top of the risers’ board with a gain of 4.1p to 154.5p after it found itself at the centre of vague bid rumours, with AIG speculated as a possible suitor. However, the market was also quick to point out that shares had recently declined to their lowest point in five months.

Positive broker notes also boosted a number of stocks with business information firm Experian ahead 4.5p at 606.5p. However, BT fell 2.5p to 319.5p despite receiving an upgrade from Bear Stearns highlighting the healthy prospects for its broadband business.

Stocks turning ex-dividend, meaning that shareholders are not entitled to the latest dividend payout, accounted for the leading fallers. Chemicals-to-catalysts firm Johnson Matthey was off 41p at 1654p, with telecoms company Cable & Wireless down 3.5p at 198p.

Elsewhere, film studio Pinewood Shepperton saw shares fall more than 2% or 7.25p, to 280p after warning that production delays would lead to broadly flat revenues this year.

Specialist magazine publisher Future jumped more than 7%, or 3p to 42.5p as its results came in ahead of expectations amid good progress from its recovery plans and strong online growth.

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