Failed nuclear deal leans on FTSE

Shares in nuclear power generator British Energy were down 4% today after the company failed to reach a takeover agreement with French suitor EDF.

Shares in nuclear power generator British Energy were down 4% today after the company failed to reach a takeover agreement with French suitor EDF.

The group indicated that talks were ongoing, but shares slid 31p to 698.5p in the absence of today’s expected bid and amid speculation that utility giant EDF would walk away.

Overnight falls on Wall Street on a raft of poor economic data saw the wider FTSE 100 Index open lower, standing 5.8 points down at 5406.1 by mid-morning.

Miners provided much of the downward pressure, with Kazakhmys off 71p at 1428p and Vedanta Resources 91p lower 1927p.

Poor figures from two of Japan’s biggest lenders also rocked investor confidence, although UK banks shrugged off the fears, with interim results from Alliance & Leicester coming in line with expectations.

The group, which has agreed a £1.26 billion sale to Spain’s Santander, reported a 99% plunge in first half profits to just £2 million, but shares rose for a while in the absence of any nasty surprises. A&L was later 4.25p lower at 336.25p.

HBOS continued to rise after yesterday’s sharp profits fall was also not as bad as feared, with shares up another 4%, 11.25p to 301.75p today. Lloyds, which suffered a backlash after its interims disappointed on Wednesday, recovered from a weak opening to stand 4.25p higher at 299.5p.

As well as British Energy, attention was focused on British Airways after the company reported a sharp fall in first quarter profits and reduced its annual revenues target to 3%. Shares initially fell, but later stood 14.75p higher at 270p.

B&Q firm Kingfisher was enjoying better fortunes, up 7% or 8p to 126.4p after announcing the 560 million euros (£441.6m) sale of its Italian business Castorama.

In the FTSE 250 Index, Trinity Mirror shares jumped 14% or 12p to 98.25p after Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley both upgraded their ratings on the newspaper publisher.

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