Alliance and Leicester has announced improved earnings for the first half of the year, but it wasn't...
Alliance and Leicester has announced improved earnings for the first half of the year, but it wasn't enough to keep the FTSE 100 from falling after Inter-Continental Hotels revealed it is building yet more hotels in China.
As a result of news from InterContinental - suggesting there are plans to double its number of hotels in China to 80 by 2005 - the FTSE 100 lost ground within the first hour of trading and dropped almost 29 points or 0.7% to 4120.
InterContinental lost 13.5p or 2.8% to 476.5p while Alliance & Leicester managed to push a gain of 17p or 2.1% to 844p. A&L's first-half income rose 12% to £189m thanks to cost-cutting and renewed interest in mortgages through the base rate cut.
Debenhams, the high street chain, is also up 8p or 1.9% to 433.5p after Permira, a UK-based private equity firm, will make an offer to buy the group for around £1.54bn - at least according to the Times.
In Asia, a loss for Sony, unsurprisingly, pushed trading downwards a fraction in Japan to 9648 points as the games console company today announced profits of Yen1.1bn - down 98% on last year.
This had a major effect on the other big Japanese exporters, NEC, the computer manufacturer, fell 1% to Yen783 and Fujitsu shed 2.1%to Yen551.
Elsewhere in the region, trading was slightly better in Singapore where the Straits Times Index closed up 0.7% to 1560.46, while other indices fell.
And in the US yesterday, trading had been strong for most of the day after unemployment figures dropped unexpectedly and telecoms company AT&T turned around a profit, having made a huge loss the previous year.
A late run in trading, however, pushed all three main indices down within the last minutes of business as a final sell erupted.
The Dow Jones closed down 81.7 points or 0.89% to 9,112.51 while the S&P 500 index lost 17.76 points or 1.03% to 1,701.42 and the Nasdaq fell 7 points or 0.71% to 981.6.
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