The FTSE 100 index has fallen 10.4 points, or 0.19%, to 5,450.5 despite good showings from Cable & Wireless and Antofagasta.
Cable & Wireless has jumped 3.5p, or 2.89%, to 124.5p, after reports stated the company believes it is a ``certainty'' that private-equity funds are considering a takeover offer for it. Antofagasta is also on the rise with gains of 20p, or 1.35%, to 1,500p.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca, the country's second-biggest drugmaker, has fallen 27p, or 1.04%, to 2,568p, after Credit Suisse First Boston advised investors to reduce holdings in the stock.
BAA is also getting off to a rocky start with a drop of 11p, or 1.72%, to 627.5p, closely followed by Anglo-American which has declined 25p, or 1.44%, to 1,714p.
FirstGroup is another loser this morning with a fall of 0.5p, or 0.15%, to 334.5p. The UK's biggest bus and rail company said fiscal first- half profit dropped 19% to £35.5m because of rising fuel costs.
In Japan the Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 35.47, or 0.25%, to 14,072.20 at its close a short time ago thanks to a rise in technology shares.
TDK, Japan's largest maker of disk-drive parts, jumped 550 yen, or 6.4%, to 9,190, after analysts raised the estimate price on the stock to 10,000 yen from 9,500, citing increased demand for hard disc drive heads.
Tokyo Electron, the world's second-largest maker of semiconductor production equipment, also advanced by 180 yen, or 3%, to 6,140. The company announced a profit of 10.7 billion yen in its fiscal second quarter, which matched the results from the company's preliminary earnings statement released last month.
Other technology shares that saw a rise included Advantest, the world's biggest maker of equipment used to test computer memory chips, which rose 480 yen, or 5.6%, to 9,020.
NEC Electronics, Japan's third-largest semiconductor maker, surged 180 yen, or 5.5%, to 3,440, while Toshiba, the world's second-largest maker of flash-memory chips used in music players and mobile phones, added 12 yen, or 2%, to 608.
Meanwhile Sumitomo Metal Industries led declines by steelmakers after it failed to raise its dividend forecast, disappointing some investors, and leading to a decline of 32 yen, or 7%, to 428. Nippon Steel, the nation's biggest steelmaker, also slid 19 yen, or 4.2%, to 429, while JFE Holdings dropped 160 yen, or 4%, to 3,890.
In the US the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 46.51, or 0.44%, to 10,539.72, with home builders and makers of construction materials leading the retreat, signalling the housing boom may have peaked.
Toll Brothers, the nation's largest builder of luxury homes, led the way with a drop of $5.50 to $33.91, after it reduced its sales forecast to 6.9%, citing regulatory delays in opening new developments, construction backlogs and an easing of demand in some markets.
D.R. Horton, the second-biggest builder by market value, also fell $3.15, to $30.60, while KB Home, the fifth-biggest, dropped $3.71, to $63.74 and Lennar, the No. 3 builder, lost $3.05, to $55.30.
Elsewhere it wasn’t all bad news as Houston Exploration advanced $4.10, to $54.86, after the oil services company announced a restructuring and a stock buyback program.
While McDonald's also added $0.30 to $34, after the company said October sales increased 3.4%, boosted by higher sales in Europe and a Monopoly-game promotion in the United States.IFAonline
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