FTSE inches down; weak miners offset energy gains

By Simon Falush

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – Weakness from miners and banks nudged Britain’s FTSE 100 index slightly lower by the close on Friday, ending the month on a whimper after a strong run since early September.

Energy stocks were the main support for the index, with Royal Dutch Shell up 2 percent as its forecast-beating results from yesterday were made to look more flattering still after disappointing figures from Chevron and Total Friday.

BG Group added 2.1 percent ahead of its results next week.

BP rose 0.7 percent after a U.S. presidential panel said contractor Halliburton used flawed cement in the Gulf of Mexico well that caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The blue-chip index ended 2.73 points lower at 5,675.16, making a 1.2 percent fall this week after gaining for each of the three previous weeks. The index has still recorded gains of around 8.5 percent since the start of September.

“The bulls have slightly run out of energy over the last week or 10 days,” said Andrew Bell, chief executive of Witan Investment Trust.

“A lot of the available good news on corporate results and quantitative easing is in the price, and there’s no new reason for buying.”

U.S. economic growth edged up as expected in the third quarter but not enough to chip away at high unemployment or change perceptions there would be more monetary easing from the Federal Reserve next week.

FED WATCH

An increasing conviction that the Federal Reserve will print money to support a fragile economy in the United States has pressured the dollar, lifted commodity prices and boosted equities.

For readers of the technical runes, the FTSE escaped a “bearish engulfing candle” by closing above 5,670, according to Nicole Elliott, analyst at Mizuho Corporate Bank.

Miners continued their ebb and flow of recent days, giving back part of Thursday’s advance, with Xstrata and Rio Tinto the worst performers, down 3.2 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

Banks were also weaker, with Barclays and HSBC losing 1.4 and 1.5 percent, respectively.

British Airways was the top FTSE 100 faller, down 3.6 percent, after the airline posted first-half results, with investors taking profits after a good run in the share price, and as economic uncertainty remains.

As investors switched out of riskier assets such as miners and banks, utility companies with defensive qualities took up the slack.

Scottish & Southern Energy topped the leaderboard, gaining 3.4 percent, while Centrica and Severn Trent added 3.2 and 2 percent, respectively.

(Editing by Will Waterman)

FTSE inches down; weak miners offset energy gains