FTSE down 0.4 percent; banks, commodities weigh

* Banks, commodities wane, reversing Thursday’s rally

* Uncertainty over eurozone debt weighs

* Power generators weak on broker downgrade

* Property groups squeeze higher post budget

By David Brett

LONDON, March 26 (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s top share index
dropped 0.4 percent by midday on Friday, as banks fell after the
previous session’s rally, with investors wary after recent
gains.

By 1137 GMT, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was down 20.63 points at
5,707.02 having finished up 49.77 points, or 0.9 percent on
Thursday, above the 5,700-mark for the first time since June 19,
2008.

“The gains yesterday were sharp and with the Dow Jones
eradicating triple-digit gains by the end of the session
investors are a little uncertain as to how sincere Thursday’s
gains were,” said Joshua Raymond, Market Strategist, City Index.

U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) suffered a late sell-off on Thursday, with the
Dow Jones (.DJI: ) ending flat, as the agreement by euro zone
governments to provide a joint financial safety net for
debt-laden Greece failed to alleviate longer-term worries about
other fiscally vulnerable economies in Europe. [ID:nLDE62N2R1]

However the ease with which the FTSE broke the 5,700-mark
suggests it “looks firmly positioned for an attack at the major
psychological 6,000 level in the near to medium term”, Raymond
said.

Banks were on the back foot, having been big risers on
Thursday, with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: ), Lloyds Banking
Group (LLOY.L: ), HSBC (HSBA.L: ) and Standard Chartered (STAN.L: )
down 0.1 to 2.1 percent.

Investors also booked profits in commodities, with miners
Randgold Resources (RRS.L: ), Rio Tinto (RIO.L: ) and Lonmin (LMI.L: )
down 0.1 to 0.3 percent.

Energy stocks extended their recent weak run, with BG Group
(BG.L: ), BP (BP.L: ) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: ) down 0.1-1.9
percent.

DEFENSIVES WEIGH

Defensively-perceived issues, including utilities, consumer
goods, pharmaceutical firms and tobaccos, all fell in a
broad-based sell-off.

Power suppliers International Power (IPR.L: ), and Scottish
and Southern Energy (SSE.L: ) shed 3 and 1.4 percent,
respectively, after JP Morgan downgraded its ratings for both
stocks.

Other utilities, National Grid (NG.L: ), Severn Trent (SVT.L: )
and United Utilities (UU.L: ) lost 0.8 to 0.9 percent.

Unilever (ULVR.L: ) dropped 0.7 percent as HSBC cut its rating
to “neutral” from “overweight”.

Drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: ) and AstraZeneca (AZN.L: ),
and Imperial Tobacco (IMT.L: ) were 0.3 to 1 percent lower after
rising on Thursday.

Highlighting the tough economic climate, business investment
in Britain fell 4.3 percent between October and December 2009
compared with the previous three months, giving a record 23.5
percent annual drop, official data showed. [ID:nLAJ002323]

Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CWP.L: ) was trading at 97 pence
on its stock market debut following the demerger by the re-named
Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC.L: ) of its global telecoms
business. CWC was trading at 57.9p.

Barclays Capital in a note this week estimated on the basis
of discounted cashflow-based computations a fair value of 90-120
pence for C&W Worldwide shares and of 60-80 pence for CWC.

On the upside, the top performing sector was real estate
investment, which enjoyed a post-budget rally, with British Land
(BLND.L: ), Land Securities (LAND.L: ) and Liberty International
(LII.L: ) among the gainers, up 0.6 to 2.6 percent.

The main focus later on Friday will be the final reading for
fourth-quarter U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP), due at
1230 GMT, followed by the final University of Michigan consumer
sentiment survey for March at 1355 GMT.

Stock Market Money

(Editing by Greg Mahlich)

FTSE down 0.4 percent; banks, commodities weigh