FTSE sees downturn

Credit checking company Experian led a downturn for the London market today as it warned of the impact of tough conditions in UK and US financial markets.

Credit checking company Experian led a downturn for the London market today as it warned of the impact of tough conditions in UK and US financial markets.

The stock fell more than 7%, or 40p to 503p, after it said its US business had taken a hit from the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market and added that tough conditions were also affecting its credit services arm in the UK.

The FTSE 100 Index retreated back below the 6,600 mark to stand 22.6 points lower at 6592.8.

The banking sector was out of favour following a broker downgrade from Lehman Brothers for HBOS. The Halifax parent slid more than 2%, or 21p to 934.5p, after Lehman said it expected profits from the mortgage sector to take a hit next year on the back of lower volumes growth and higher funding costs.

The news sent Lloyds TSB down 5.5p at 565.5p, Barclays off 6.5p at 659p and Royal Bank of Scotland down 7.5p to 550.5p.

However, Northern Rock moved in the opposite direction – up almost 26%, or 53.25p to 259p – on the news that private equity group SRM had built up a stake of just over 4% in the mortgage bank. The news renewed hopes that the lender can avoid a cut-price sale.

Dairy Milk firm Cadbury Schweppes climbed 3p at 603.5p – after strong third quarter sales offset disappointment at the failure of the company to sell its American drinks business.

Carphone Warehouse also impressed, up 4p at 346.75p after further strong growth in its high street distribution business. Growth in broadband customer numbers slowed, but the company still expects to add more than 200,000 customers in the final six months of the period.

In the FTSE 250 Index, UK Coal shares rose by almost 3% – up 14p to 518.5p - after announcing a supply contract with E.ON.

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