FTSE drags in morning trading

Commodity stocks led London's blue-chip share index lower today as investors paused for breath after a recent strong rally.

FTSE drags in morning trading

Commodity stocks led London's blue-chip share index lower today as investors paused for breath after a recent strong rally.

A drop in metal and oil prices dragged heavily-weighted miners into the red, with the wider FTSE 100 Index down 23.3 points to 5569.7.

The falls seen in London and across Europe pointed to a weak start on Wall Street, according to futures trading on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Stock markets worldwide have gained in recent sessions following a run of positive economic figures.

The Footsie climbed 44 points on Friday following better-than-expected Chinese manufacturing figures.

But commodity stocks today gave up some of their gains seen at the end of last week, with Cairn Energy down 10p at 447.1p and BP off 6.65p to 433.85p after showing signs of recovery in recent days.

Satellite firm Inmarsat was the biggest faller after news that hedge fund Harbinger was looking at the possible sale of all or part of its 28% shareholding in the group.

Shares in Inmarsat dropped 19.5p to 649p as it hit hopes that Harbinger will bid for the company.

Investors in supermarket Tesco trod water ahead of the group's keenly awaited half-year results tomorrow, with shares down 0.2p to 428p.

While profits are expected to rise to £1.6bn (€1.84bn) compared with £1.42bn (€1.64bn) a year earlier, all eyes will be on latest sales performance after growth nearly ground to a halt in its first quarter.

News on key hires helped National Grid and FTSE 250 firm Yell move higher.

Power group National Grid rose 8p to 549p in the top tier as it named former Cadbury finance chief Andrew Bonfield as finance director from November 1.

And Yellow Pages firm Yell added 1.4p to 15.9p on the appointment of Tony Bates - formerly of telecoms group Colt and music firm EMI - as chief financial officer.

Also in the FTSE 250, Premier Foods shares jumped 13% after the UK's biggest food producer confirmed it was considering a sale of meat substitute Quorn as it comes under pressure to reduce a £1.4bn (€1.61bn) debt mountain. Shares jumped 1.7p to 17.9p as it said it received a number of takeover approaches for the business.

There was also a rise for Newcastle-based oil services firm Wellstream after a newspaper linked American giant General Electric to a takeover bid. Shares jumped 19p to 792.5p.

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