Miners dragged the Footsie into the red on Friday morning after Australia cut its economic growth forecast. Markets were showing caution ahead of non-farm payroll data due out in the US later today and elections this weekend France, Greece, Italy and Germany.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) now expects gross domestic product (GDP) to expand by 3% in 2012, lower than its earlier forecast of 3.5% in February. Consumer prices are expected to increase by 2.5% down from 3%.
"Exports have been revised lower, largely reflecting a reassessment of the ability of mining companies to utilise new transport and port capacity fully in the near term, along with weaker manufacturing exports," the RBA said today.
In domestic news, UK house prices fell by 2.4% month-on-month (-0.5% year-on-year) in April, to £159,883, according to mortgage lender Halifax. That marks the largest drop in one and a half years and comes after the expiry of the stamp-duty exemption and the economy went back into recession territory.
FTSE 100: Core RBS operating profit rises sharply
Nationalised lender Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was a high riser early on after its first-quarter results. The group is to repay the final tranche of notes issued under the government's Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) next week, after posting a profit of more than a billion pounds in the first three months of 2012. Excluding own credit adjustments, pre-tax profit totalled £1,052m.
Mining stocks were out of favour on the back of concerns over weaker growth in Australia. Antofagasta, ENRC, Rio Tinto, Xstrata and Anglo American were among the worst performers on the Footsie.
Oil giant Tullow dropped after saying that its Teak-4A appraisal well in the West Cape Three Points Block, offshore Ghana (in which it owns a 26.4% stake), encountered "thin, non-commercial reservoirs" and is, in turn, being plugged and abandoned.
Power systems group Rolls-Royce fell after giving a brief trading update this morning, reassuring that trading since the start of the year has been consistent with previous guidance.
FTSE 250: Rentokil, Laird out of favour after updates
Pest control and hygiene services group Rentokil Initial was unwanted after saying that operating profits fell year-on-year mainly as a result of higher central costs and losses at its City Link franchise.
Laird, which makes antennas and heat protection components often used in tablet computers and smartphones, says difficult trading conditions have continued into the first quarter, although it expects a 'seasonal uplift'.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 25.06p +2.08%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 32.03p +1.22%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 520.00p +1.17%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 711.50p +1.07%
Aberdeeen Asset Management: Morgan Stanley raises target price from 478p to 548p retaining an overweight rating. Bank of America ups target price from 455p to 475p and leaves its neutral rating unchanged. JP Morgan increases target price from 532p to 573p and maintains an overweight rating. Citigroup ups target price from 455p to 470p, while its neutral rating remains unchanged. UBS moves target price from 500p to 520p and retains a buy recommendation. Jefferies revises targe [30 Apr '13]
The FTSE 100 had pared gains by Monday lunchtime, pausing for breath after a strong surge last week on anticipation of a potential rate cut from the European Central Bank (ECB) in a few days' time. [29 Apr '13]
UK stock markets opened with decent gains on Monday morning after the weekend saw Italy form a new government, removing some of the political uncertainty that has dampened sentiment over the last few months. [29 Apr '13]
Pest control and hygiene giant Rentokil Initial reported weaker first quarter pre-tax profit and confirmed that it has sold its City Link business to focus on its pest, hygiene and workwear businesses. [29 Apr '13]
A number of heavyweight stocks going ex-dividend assured that London's FTSE 100 index was in the red for a fourth consecutive day on Wednesday, while concerns over the global economy continued to weigh on sentiment. [17 Apr '13]
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