Retailers helped steady the FTSE on Thursday as negative results from Schroders threatened to pull it deeper into the red.
Strong results from Debenhams pushed UK peer Next to an early 107p, or 7.46%, gain to £15.42, while Marks & Spencer Group advanced 19.75p, or 6%, to 349p.
At shortly before 9.30am, the blue-chip index had dropped eight points, or 0.2%, to 4,022, reversing an earlier five-point gain.
Fund management giant Schroders fell more than 26p, or 3.24%, to 790.5p after revealing its profit before tax fell to £36.1m in Q1 from £77.9m in the same period last year.
The asset manager also said funds under management at March 31 fell to £103.1bn from £110.2bn at the end of December 2008.
Elsewhere, banks suffered an early fall as a result of overnight struggles for US counterparts following worse-than-expected results from Morgan Stanley.
A LATE PLUNGE UNDID a 75-point gain on the Dow Jones on Wednesday as investors turned cautious.
Stocks retreated for the second time this week as concern government stress tests will expose weakness in banks grew.
The index closed Wednesday almost 83 points down (1.04%) to 7,886, with more than 100 points lost in the final 20 minutes of trading.
Earlier in the day it had peaked at 8,042 from a starting price below 7,970 as an unexpected improvement in housing prices spurred an early rally.
Bank of America took the greatest hit, dropping 0.5 points, or 5.71%, to 8.26 while pharmaceutical giant Pfizer plunged 0.48 points (3.55%) to 13.04.
Winners included Caterpillar, which advanced 1.7 points, or 5.42%, to 32.45 after a broker upgrade, and American Express, which climbed 0.87 points, or 4.45%, to 19.43.
JAPANESE STOCKS ROSE on Thursday after Goldman Sachs Group recommended the nation's carmakers.
The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 119.71 points, or 1.4%, to close at 8,847.01 in Tokyo.IFAonline
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