Footsie bumbled along for most of the morning a little in the red, weighed down by mining stocks, which have been under selling pressure after weak Chinese trade data.
The top-share index did briefly venture into positive territory around 11:00 but with US futures markets pointing to a soft opening on Wall Street the rally quickly ran out of steam.
Chinese exports grew 1.0% from a year earlier in July, which is not the sort of growth the market has become used to; economists had plumped for a growth rate of 8.6%.
Imports, meanwhile, grew less expected. The year-on-year rise was 4.7% versus market expectations of a 7.2% rise.
The trade surplus narrowed from $31.7bn in June to $25.1bn in July.
City approves of new Barclays skipper
Scandal-hit bank Barclays is to appoint City veteran Sir David Walker as its new Chairman. Walker will join the board on September 1st before replacing the outgoing Chairman, Marcus Agius, in November.
Walker has served as Chairman of Morgan Stanley International and Deputy Chairman of Lloyds Bank, but also has experience in government as Assistant Secretary to the Treasury and Executive Director of the Bank of England. His time as a regulator will be crucial for Barclays to rebuild trust after the agonies of the LIBOR debacle which saw the departure of the ultra-high profile Chief Executive, Bob Diamond.
Sector peer Standard Chartered, embroiled in an entirely different scandal to Barclays, is under a little pressure as ratings agency Fitch is making noises about reviewing the bank's AA- credit rating.
There has been speculation that the UK bank is pondering legal action against the New York State Department of Financial Services, which broke ranks from other US regulators to make some serious accusations about the behaviour of Standard Chartered Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Standard Chartered. Many investors believe getting into a fight with regulators would not be a smart move.
The Fitch analysts expect to have more clarity on the possible outcomes after the hearing scheduled for August 15th.
"Standard Chartered has informed Fitch that deposit outflows have been limited so far and that its USD [US dollar] liquidity has remained strong. The bank has substantial sources of USD liquidity outside its New York branch," Fitch said.
Elsewhere in the financial sector, insurance titan Prudential is, not for the first time, thanking its Asian operations for a solid first-half performance.
Although the figures failed to wow the market - IFRS operating profit was up 13% to £1,162m from £1,028m a year earlier, beating broker Panmure Gordon's forecast for IFRS operating profit of £1,095m - performance in Asia was a bright spot, with IFRS operating profit up 21% year-on-year. IFRS stands for International Financial Reporting Standards. Insurance companies also present results using the European Embedded Value (EEV) guidelines, and on this basis operating profit came in at £2,109m, versus £2,147m the year before. Panmure Gordon had forecast headline European Embedded Value operating profit of £2,160m, up 1% on the first half of 2011.
Flybe, Europe's largest regional airline, has warned that is has experienced another 'very challenging' year, with the forward booking visibility remaining 'extremely limited'. Looking ahead, the firm expects total year-on-year growth for the year ended March 31st to be between flat and 2.0%, below its previous expectations. The stock has lost altitude rapidly, dragging easyJet lower with it.
Another stock going down is UK Coal after the debt-laden firm announced a restructuring. The restructuring will see the pension fund defer contributions for two years while each of the firm's nine mines is hived off into a separate business, avoiding one mine failure from bringing down the rest of the group (which is essentially what is happening now).
Collectibles dealer Stanley Gibbons is leaving its stamp on the market after reporting rising interim profits and forecasting growth for the rest of the year 'irrespective of economic conditions' as it continues to lead the way in sourcing rare stamps.
Oil firms pleaseThe US focused oil and gas firm Caza has reported increased production in the second quarter as new wells improved its extraction rates. Caza's production increased 38% to 25,107 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) for the three-month period ended June 30th from 18,130 boe for the same period in 2011. This represents an average daily production rate increase of 77 boe per day.
Oil and gas company Gulf Keystone is wanted after it reached a 'major milestone' by submitting a declaration of commercial discovery for the Shaikan Block in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Barclays (BARC) 183.80p +2.71%
Aviva (AV.) 321.80p +1.61%
ICAP (IAP) 335.30p +1.33%
Anglo American (AAL) 2,043.50p +0.94%
Kingfisher (KGF) 287.00p +0.81%
Schroders (SDR) 1,404.00p +0.79%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,136.00p +0.62%
Whitbread (WTB) 2,174.00p +0.56%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 1,678.00p +0.54%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 217.90p +0.41%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,123.00p -3.77%
IMI (IMI) 882.50p -1.89%
Amec (AMEC) 1,086.00p -1.54%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 573.50p -1.29%
Reed Elsevier (REL) 561.50p -1.23%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 149.60p -1.19%
Datafeed and UK data supplied by NETbuilder and Interactive Data.
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