Belfast Telegraph

FTSE edges slightly higher as shares hold on to gains made earlier in week

The London market struggled for direction, as top flight shares managed to hold on to gains made earlier this week.

The FTSE 100 Index edged 5.1 points higher to 6270.8, despite losses from miners who had started the session trading buoyantly.

Germany's DAX was flat and the Cac 40 in France was slightly down, with little economic news released today. In New York the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged ahead in early trading.

Top flight shares in London finished the week around 100 points higher compared to their close last Friday.

The pound was down slightly against the US dollar at 1.46, as US consumer sentiment rose to 94.7 in May, the highest in almost a year, according to a closely-watched University of Michigan index.

Sterling was up slightly against the euro at 1.31.

Heavyweight miners were among the biggest fallers, as prices for copper and iron ore eased back from robust gains earlier in the session, dimming prospects for world trade.

Anglo American fell 17.2p to 612p, Antofagasta slipped 11.3p to 436.6p and BHP Billiton was 11.5p lower at 840.3p.

However, banking stocks recovered their poise after being dragged down on Thursday by news of Spain's Banco Popular's 2.5 billion euro (£1.9 billion) rights issue.

Barclays lifted 1.4p to 186.2p, Royal Bank of Scotland rose 2.6p to 251.2p and HSBC climbed 2.5p to 448.5p.

Oil stocks lost ground as Brent crude fell back from above 50 US dollars a barrel earlier this week, its highest level this year.

Brent crude was down 0.5% to just over 49 US dollars a barrel, which saw BP ease by 2.5p to 362p and Royal Dutch Shell slip 12p to 1680.5p.

High street retailer Marks & Spencer was lower for the third day in a row after new boss Steve Rowe warned earlier in the week that profits will take a hit in the short term under a turnaround plan to slash clothing prices and put more staff in stores.

Mr Rowe, who took on the top job from Marc Bolland in April, said it was his ''top priority'' to get clothing sales back on track.

He will cut everyday prices for nearly a third - 30% - of its clothing ranges, while reducing promotions and clearance sales.

Shares slipped 4p to 386.6p, and have fallen 13% since the day prior to his announcement on Wednesday.

Liberum analyst Tom Gadsby said: "It is not unusual that a new chief executive lowers guidance and increases investment but the extent of the reset took many by surprise.

"Much is yet to be addressed. The UK store base, too big and inflexible in our view, is the elephant in the room while the online shift is dilutive to margins."

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Royal Mail up 10.5p at 532.5p, Carnival up 67p at 3446p, United Utilities up 16p at 971p and 3i Group up 9p at 552p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 Index were Anglo American down 17.2p at 612p, Antofagasta down 11.3p at 436.6p, Capita down 23p to 1075p and Randgold Resources down 120p to 5735p.