Poor day for FTSE

Miners pushed the FTSE 100 Index into reverse today as sentiment remained poor on both sides of the Atlantic.

Miners pushed the FTSE 100 Index into reverse today as sentiment remained poor on both sides of the Atlantic.

Hopes of a positive session in New York proved to be wide of the mark and the FTSE 100 Index closed down 40.47 points at 4149.6.

The Footsie had been higher on hopes of a bright start in North America, but the top flight later faded after a trading update from consumer giant Procter & Gamble knocked sentiment on Wall Street.

The Gillette firm said its fourth-quarter profit rose, even though sales dipped 3% on weakening demand for its products, which also include Tide detergent, Olay skin cream and Crest toothpaste.

Flora-to-Hellmann's mayonnaise firm Unilever was impacted by the P&G results, with shares down 52p to 1533p, ahead of its own update next week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.5% in early trade, at 8027.8.

On the London market, Xstrata led the fallers board after announcing a £4.1bn (€4.6bn) rights issue in a bid to shore up its balance sheet earlier in the week.

The mining giant, which is facing a sharp fall in commodity prices, saw its shares come under further pressure with a drop of 13%, or 76p to 569.5p. Elsewhere in the sector, Antofagasta dropped 26.75p to 420p and BHP Billiton fell 95p to 1181p.

Private equity firm 3i bounced back from yesterday's falls, which were spurred on by a trading update on Wednesday and market speculation that the company may be considering a move to raise funds through a rights issue. 3i rose 7% today after announcing it had promoted Cressida Hogg to managing partner of its infrastructure business. 3i was up 16.5p at 226.5p.

Investors were also cheered by the banking sector, which resumed its winning streak after losses on Thursday broke a three-day recovery.

Barclays set the pace on the risers board after shares rose another 5% or 5.8p to 106.1p. Royal Bank of Scotland rose 1p to 22p, a gain of almost 5%, while Lloyds was up 1.7p at 90.7p.

The sector was in freefall last week but has recovered following reassuring comments from Barclays management and broker comments indicating that fears of further nationalisations in the sector may be overdone.

There was also a recovery for building supplies firm Wolseley, which has been under pressure amid fears it could be forced into a cash call to shareholders. Wolseley rose 1.9p to 172.7p after broker Collins Stewart raised its rating on the stock from sell to hold.

British Airways, which is due to post figures next Friday, was down 10.8p to 120.1p - after Citi downgraded BA's merger partner Iberia.

The biggest Footsie risers were Land Securities up 56p at 689.5p, 3i Group up 16,5p at 226.5p, Barclays up 5.8p at 106.1p and International Power up 13.5 at 271.75p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Xstrata down 76p at 569.5p, British Airways off 10.8p at 120.1p, BHP Billiton down 95p at 1181p and Antofagasta off 26.75p at 420p.

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