FTSE down 29 points in morning trading

The London market began the wind-down to Christmas today as the market drifted lower amid thin trading volumes.

The London market began the wind-down to Christmas today as the market drifted lower amid thin trading volumes.

With little in the way of corporate or economic news to drive markets, the FTSE 100 Index stood 29 points lower at 4257.9 by mid-morning.

In the banking sector merger partners Halifax Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB saw different fates.

HBOS fell back from the top spot on the risers board, but was still up 0.5%, or 0.3p at 64.5p, but Lloyds sunk nearly 7%, or 9p to 125.6p as their impending tie-up draws nearer.

Retailers Marks & Spencer and B&Q owner Kingfisher joined Lloyds on the fallers board amid mounting reports on a tough festive shopping season.

M&S dropped 11.5p to 214.25p and Kingfisher eased 6.3p to 133.1p.

British Airways shares dipped 0.5p to 170.4 after it announced the order of a fleet of 11 new fuel-efficient aircraft for use on short haul routes, in an order worth around £252 million.

Rolls-Royce suffered a fall despite its report that it had secured a £258 million Ministry of Defence contract to supply engine support to the UK’s Sea King helicopter fleet. Shares fell 5.5p to 319.75p.

Telecoms firms Vodafone and Cable & Wireless featured among the winners. Vodafone saw a 2.85p rise to 132.8p, whereas Cable jumped 1.4p to 153.1p.

Miners attempted a fight back after a sell-off on Friday on slightly higher gold prices today, with Kazakhmys ahead by 0.75p to 231.5p, although many of its counterparts continued to fall.

Xstrata was 32p down at 613.5p and BHP Billiton lost 33p to 1202p.

Energy explorer Cairn Energy did make early advances after it announced an oil and gas discovery near its existing field in the western state of Rajasthan, but shares later plummeted, down 38p to 1,810p.

Other companies on the winners board included Thomson Holidays parent TUI Travel, up 6.75p at 229.25p, and Dairy Milk maker Cadbury, up 17p at 585p.

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