Little change for FTSE

The London market finished virtually flat today as no-change rate decisions from central banks in the UK and Europe failed to make an impact.

The London market finished virtually flat today as no-change rate decisions from central banks in the UK and Europe failed to make an impact.

Investors took the widely-expected decisions from the Bank of England and the European Central Bank in their stride in a largely quiet session for corporate news.

The FTSE 100 Index had edged just 3.5 points higher to 4386.9 by the close, although a poor session for miners hindered further progress.

US markets made modest early gains on mixed economic data but traders were mostly hedging their bets ahead of key jobs figures from the world's largest economy due tomorrow.

In London, the weakness in the commodity sector offset a good session for supermarkets after Morrisons posted strong first-quarter sales figures.

Morrisons - the UK's fourth largest supermarket - rose 6.5p to 254p after revealing first quarter sales growth of 8.2% excluding VAT.

Rival Sainsbury's also moved almost 2% or 5.5p ahead to 322p as the company also benefited from a Morgan Stanley upgrade. Market leader Tesco cheered 7.5p to 360.8p.

On a day of more general cheer for the retailing sector as a whole, several other blue-chip players made advances. Argos owner Home Retail Group added 7p to 252p, B&Q firm Kingfisher added 4p to 196.6p and fashion chain Next was 38p higher at 1537p.

Elsewhere in the top flight, banks were higher as Barclays fought back from share falls seen in the wake of a stake sale by a major Middle Eastern investor earlier this week. Shares were up 6.25p to 266p.

Royal Bank of Scotland added 1.1p to 37.2p, while Lloyds Banking Group was 1.1p better at 67.1p ahead of what could be a stormy annual meeting tomorrow.

But the Footsie was dominated by fallers from the heavyweight mining sector, led by Lonmin, which shed 100p to 1410p. It was closely followed by Rio Tinto, down 192p to 2720p amid speculation that an investment by Chinese state-owned Chinalco was off.

Back among the retailers, Debenhams shares fell 2.25p to 90p after the FTSE 250 firm completed a £323 million fundraising to help pay down debts.

Fellow second tier retailer WH Smith eased back by 8.25p to 425.25p after a third quarter trading update.

The chain said like-for-like sales were down 4%, between March and the end of May, although this was better than at the half year stage and the firm is confident over full-year results.

Insolvency firm Begbies Traynor was down 0.75p to 106.25p despite predicting increased workloads "for several years to come" in a trading update.

The Manchester-based firm said insolvency work - which accounts for nearly 80% of group revenues - was "very substantially ahead of last year".

The biggest Footsie risers were Liberty International up 45p at 420p, Hammerson up 25.75p at 303p, Icap up 18.75p to 430.25p and British Land up 13.75p to 379p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Lonmin down 100p at 1410p, Rio Tinto down 192p at 2720p, Fresnillo off 43p at 685.5p and Kazakhmys down 37p at 662p.

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