The FTSE began the week heading south again. There was very little corporate news to excite the city...
The FTSE began the week heading south again. There was very little corporate news to excite the city and weakness among telecom, software, media and selected financials held the index lower.
At morning trade the FTSE 100 was down 24.6 points to 5512.4.
Leading the FTSE gainers was Alliance & Leicester. The stock is up thanks to weekend speculation that Abbey National is considering a merger proposal. A bid is likely to be hostile and Abbey will be jostling with other interested parties including Bank of Ireland and Bank of Australia. A&L advanced 24p to 840p.
Leading the fallers was support service Capita, down 14.5p to 440p followed by Telewest, down 2.25p to 80p. Index heavyweight Vodafone also tipped Footsie lower as it lost 3.5p to 153.75p.
Most notable news of the morning is that BP is to become Germany's biggest fuel retailer following its decision to swap a 51% stake in its Gehlsenberg division, which controls 25.5% of Germany's biggest gas provider Ruhrgas, for 51% of Veba Oil. Veba is the petrol station and oil division of German utility giant E.ON. The news failed to shift the shares dramatically, which put on 1p to 573p.
Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance weakened following news it is offering £700m to buy the UK insurance division of Groupama. R&SA shed 5.5p to 518p.
Among the FTSE 250, beleaguered Irish internet security group, Baltimore Technology gained 3.5p to 34.5p adding to its five-day climb of 88%. Baltimore laid to rest rumors that it's in advanced talks that may lead to the sale of the company. Speculation had mounted after the weekend press reported US software manufacturer Computer Associates is in talks to buy Baltimore.
On Friday US markets closed higher but gains were minimal. The Dow Jones finished the week with a rise of 60 to 10539, the Nasdaq was up 9 to 2084 and the Standard & Poor's 500 added 7 to 1215.
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