The FTSE 100 Index clung to positive territory today in the wake of results from a large number of blue-chip companies.
A gain of almost 200 points for the Dow Jones Industrial Average helped the mood, with the FTSE 100 Index recovering from an initial poor start to reach mid-morning 4.7 points higher at 5425.4.
There were mixed fortunes for companies with results out today, with Halifax Bank of Scotland gaining a much needed boost but BT falling 12% amid concerns about profitability at its global services arm.
The City’s worries overshadowed a strong performance in retail and left BT shares down 24.4p at 173.2p.
It was a testing session for the telecoms sector after Carphone Warehouse downgraded its forecast for broadband growth this year. Shares opened 3% lower but later recovered to stand 0.4p cheaper at 192.4p.
Unilever was sharply lower, off 7% or 113p to 1397p, as analysts worried about negative volume growth in the company’s developed markets. That was despite the company sticking by forecasts in its half-year results.
There was better news from the banks, with the absence of any further credit crunch related surprises in HBOS’s half-year results causing the stock to rally 14.25p to 285.5p. A dividend rise also reassured investors.
But Lloyds TSB continued to fall after yesterday’s results disappointment. Further broker downgrades meant the stock dipped 7.25p to 298.75p, a fall of 2%.
Royal Dutch Shell and Centrica were both higher after posting results.
The oil giant posted better than expected profits for the second quarter and was rewarded with a rise of 15p to 1820p after it also benefited from an increase in energy prices overnight.
British Gas owner Centrica was higher for a spell after operating profits came in ahead of expectations. The stock later gave back the gains to stand 2.5p cheaper at 315.5p.