Belfast Telegraph

Uncertainty and caution drag down FTSE 100 blue chips

By Graeme Evans

The FTSE 100 Index struggled for momentum yesterday despite a significant boost to Barclays shares in the wake of better-than-expected results. The 4% shares rise for the banking giant came as investors digested a fresh £900m hit from PPI claims and a decline in half-year revenues from the group's investment bank operation.

Other banks were also higher but the top flight slipped 2.7 points to 6805 due to uncertainty caused by a busy week for US economic updates.

One of the main events will be the latest decision from the US Federal Reserve, with policymakers set to announce a further £10bn tapering of asset purchases after the close of trading in London.

The cautious mood was reflected in the performance of risk-driven stocks, with BHP Billiton down 25.75p to 20702.5p and Glencore off 2.9p to 373.1p.

ITV was among other fallers in the FTSE 100 after it announced a 16% rise in half-year profits to £312m.

Chief executive Adam Crozier reported double-digit profit growth in every area of the business but advertising revenues remain volatile, with first quarter growth of just 2% followed by 13% in the second quarter.

The bank's share of viewing was lower, although Mr Crozier said his vision for the company was unchanged as his five-year turnaround plan draws to a close. Shares were 2.85p lower at 202.15p, a drop of 1.5% but still double the level seen at the start of 2013.

Other fallers included Sainsbury's, which was 6.2p lower at 317.1p, and Marks & Spencer with a decline of 4.4p to 433.6p.

Barclays rose 9.8p to 228.95p as broker Jefferies said a better-than-expected trend for impairments helped profits come in 13% ahead of forecasts.

Royal Bank of Scotland, which last week revealed better-than-expected profits, was 6.95p higher at 360.95p while Lloyds Banking Group was a penny stronger at 76.6p ahead of its own half-year figures.

Belfast Telegraph