Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Footsie Struggles to Hold 4200 as Buyers Lie Low

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Footsie Struggles to Hold 4200 as Buyers Lie Low

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL CLARK

CITY investors were struggling to hold the market above the 4200 level as prices traded in a narrow band.

Buyers were thin on the ground as support levels were tested with the FTSE 100 index trading up 10 points at 4216.4. There was little inspiration from Wall Street overnight, which saw the Dow close with small losses.

Fourth-quarter earnings from recently merged BHP Billiton, up 53/4p at 4091/4p, jumped 75%, but the mining giant posted a modest 2.9% increase in full-year net profit of US$1.866 billion ([pounds sterling]1.187 billion). London and Sydney-listed BHP blamed " weak" and "anaemic" global demand for the flat result, which was struck on a 15% increase in turnover to $117.5 billion.

This was due to higher volume sales of iron ore, coal, copper, and aluminium.

Profits after exceptional items and discontinued operations came in at $1.9 billion, up $211 million on last year. The group is looking for $500 million in merger savings by 2005.

Advertising giant WPP firmed 33/4p to 5761/2p on the back of a survey indicating 15 of the company's top 25 clients are planning to increase their spending.

Gloomy predictions, however, from hotelier Hilton Group about the continuing poor health of the hotels industry sent its shares down 6p to 196p, making it the second-biggest faller in the FTSE 100. First-half group profits of [pounds sterling]110.5 million included a 40% slump in hotels profits to [pounds sterling]56.1 million.

Retailer Woolworths was the FTSE 250 third-biggest faller, off 13/4p to 371/2p, after Investec downgraded its ratings on the stock.

Financial PR and advertising outfit Incepta drifted 11/4p from a year's high of 213/4p after broker UBS downgraded the shares from buy to neutral because it thinks they are now looking too expensive. …

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