The FTSE 100 Index remained near its opening mark today as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of key economic developments later in the week.
Borrowing and retail sales figures, Bank of England interest rate minutes and the UK government’s spending review are all due in the next couple of days. The uncertainty left the FTSE 100 Index 4.6 points lower at 5738.1.
Strong quarterly figures from tech giants Apple and IBM failed to inspire the market as shares in the pair retreated in after-hours trading on Wall Street.
Banks were on the risers board for a second session as investors took heart from Citigroup posting third quarter results ahead of expectations. This was backed up by credit rating agency Fitch, which said the banking sector was slowly returning to health in the UK but that regulation of capital and liquidity requirements was likely to weigh on earnings in the long-term.
Royal Bank of Scotland lifted 0.9p to 47.3p and Lloyds Banking Group rose 0.2p to 72.4p, while Barclays was ahead 4.6p to 293.9p.
Autonomy shares were the leading riser, up 5% or 72p to 1491p, after a reassuring update two weeks after it issued a profits warning.
The group, which helps companies keep track of their e-mails, phone calls and documents, reported a 34% rise in profits for the quarter to September 30.
In corporate news, shares in housebuilder Bellway were under pressure after it said it did not expect a pick up in sales before next spring.
Shares fell 4% or 28p to 573.5p, even though Bellway posted full-year results slightly ahead of expectations and increased its dividend.
Meanwhile, retailer Blacks Leisure jumped 25% – up 8.5p to 42.5p – after it said it had received takeover approaches for some or all of the business.
The Millets owner has hired advisers to help it field the offers, which are thought to include proposals from at least two private equity firms.
Sports Direct, which pulled an offer for Blacks in March, fell 1.6p to 147.6p even though the Serious Fraud Office said the company will not face charges in relation to its inquiry into allegations of cartel activity.
Shares in JJB Sports, which was also cleared, were unchanged at 10.25p.
The SFO is still investigating individuals in the case while the Office of Fair Trading added that its own investigation into alleged anti-competitive conduct in the sports goods retail sector was continuing.