FTSE down almost 40 points

The FTSE 100 Index paused for breath today after its recent shares rally as commodity stocks posted heavy falls.

FTSE down almost 40 points

The FTSE 100 Index paused for breath today after its recent shares rally as commodity stocks posted heavy falls.

London's blue-chip share index closed down 36.9 points to 5556, with falls mirrored across Europe and Wall Street.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 0.5% soon after opening amid mixed economic news.

Resources-based stocks have gained in recent sessions following a run of positive economic figures, including a better-than-expected Chinese manufacturing report. This helped the Footsie to climb 44 points on Friday.

But with investors on edge ahead of jobs numbers in the United States later in the week, Xstrata fell 32.5p to 1209p and BP slipped 10.4p to 430.1p after showing signs of recovery in recent days.

News of a surprise pick-up in UK construction activity last month failed to help stocks, although the industry survey data gave sterling a boost. The pound performed well against most major currencies, particularly against a weakened euro, up 0.8% to €1.16.

Back in the FTSE 100, satellite firm Inmarsat was another 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 13.5p to 655p as it hit hopes that Harbinger will bid for the company.

Shares in supermarket Tesco made tentative gains ahead of the group's keenly awaited half-year results tomorrow, with shares up 2.3p at 430.4p.

While profits are expected to rise to £1.6bn (€1.85bn)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 to the top of the Footsie risers board - up 12.5p to 553.5p - as it named former Cadbury finance chief Andrew Bonfield as finance director from November 1. He will replace Steve Lucas, who retires from the board at the end of this year.

Yellow Pages firm Yell added 1p to 15.5p 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 10% 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 (€1.62bn) debt mountain.

Shares improved 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 15.5p to 789p.

The biggest Footsie risers were National Grid ahead 12.5p to 553.5p, BT Group up 3p to 145.8p, Wolseley up 19p to 1601p and Morrisons up 3.1p to 296.5p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Xstrata off 32.5p to 1209p, Kazakhyms down 38p to 1423p, BP down 10.4p to 430.1p and Invensys down 6.2p to 298p.

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