The FTSE 100 has closed slightly down with a loss of 25.8 points, or 0.47%, to 5,495.3, as a strong showing on the property front was not enough to counteract weak mining stocks.
Property stocks advanced after bullish words on the sector from JP Morgan following publication of the government’s draft proposals for REITs (real estate investment trusts).
Land Securities gained 3.04% to 1,659p, while Hammerson climbed 1.94% to 999p. British Land also gained 2.04% to 1,023.5p, after the broker lifted price targets for the major players by an average of 10% and repeated ‘overweight’ advice on the sector.
Meanwhile amongst the miners, Xstrata fell 31p, or 2.28%, to 1,326p, while BHP Billiton dropped 1.4% to 878.5p. Rio Tinto also slipped 1.29% to 2,455p, as copper prices fell and profit takers continued to knock gold back towards $500 an ounce.
Oil big guns were also in retreat as US crude fell $0.52 a barrel to $60.85, with BP falling 0.95% to 624p. Shell dropped 1.6% to 1,843p, while Cairn Energy slipped 1.16% to 1,876p.
Elsewhere, retail giant GUS was on the rise, advancing 1.01% to 1,002p after a Citigroup ‘buy’ tip and target price up to 1,100p from 975p, while Smiths Group jumped 1.14% to 1,020p, on upbeat comment from Numis and sector consolidation hopes.
Newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror lost 0.95% to 575p, as it said advertising revenues, excluding acquisitions, for the five months to November were down 7.9% and added that the downward trend in the ad market will continue to be challenging for 2006.
In the US the Dow Jones Industrial Average index has gained 6.89 points to 10,890.4, with Altria and Merck leading the advance.
Altria Group has jumped 4.98% to $77.40, after the Illinois Supreme Court reversed a $10.1bn verdict against the company's tobacco unit, Philip Morris, which had been accused of defrauding customers into thinking "light" cigarettes were safer than regular smokes.
Merck has gained 2.16% to $29.83, closely followed by General Motors which has added 0.49% to $22.55.
Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble has fallen 2.05% to $58.40 after hitting a lifetime high in the previous session, and other consumer goods shares, including Clorox and Colgate-Palmolive are notably weaker, with Clorox falling 1.1% to $54.85 and Colgate dropping 1.3% to $55.52.IFAonline
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