FTSE lower as energy stocks offset firmer miners

* FTSE 100 down 0.2 percent, near two-month intraday low

* Euro zone debt problems concern lingers

* Energy stocks lower as crude slips; ex-divs also weigh

By Simon Falush

LONDON, May 5 (BestGrowthStock) – A fall in energy stocks offset a
minor rebound in mining stocks and banks to leave Britain’s top
share index lower at midday on Wednesday, as nerves on euro zone
debt contagion lingered.

By 1056 GMT the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was 9.19 points, or 0.2
percent lower at 5,401.92, down for a fourth consecutive session
after it slid 2.6 percent on Tuesday to its lowest closing level
in over two months.

Equities have been dogged by fears European Union officials
will not be able to stop Greece’s sovereign debt crisis from
spreading around the region. [ID:nN04110574]

The FTSE 100 index is now flat on the year, having been as
much as 8 percent higher on April 16. A technical analyst at
Charles Stanley said the next major support was at 5,259.

Miners were the main prop for the index as the sector
recovered some of the losses from the previous two sessions
prompted by plans for an Australian tax. Rio Tinto (RIO.L: ),
Xstrata (XTA.L: ), Lonmin (LMI.L: ), Vedanta Resources (VED.L: ) and
BHP Billiton (BLT.L: ) gained 0.9-3.1 percent.

“Resources stocks are higher as they sold off sharply,” said
Geoff Wilkinson, head of research at Mint.

“The move down has caught a lot of people wrong and long, we
have got a lot of work to do to stabilise as we may need to get
through a residual overhang in selling.”

Banks, also the targets of heavy selling in recent days,
were broadly higher. HSBC (HSBA.L: ), Lloyds Banking Group
(LLOY.L: ) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: ) added 0.6-1.2
percent, though Barclays (BARC.L: ) and Standard Chartered
(STAN.L: ) fell.

Also within financials, Prudential (PRU.L: ) fell 1.3 percent
after delaying a rights issue prompting a top 10 investor to
call it “shambolic” and increasing concern about prospects for a
$35.5 billion acquisition of AIG’s (AIG.N: ) Asian life insurance
unit.

Among blue-chip gainers, Home Retail Group (HOME.L: ) rose 1.6
percent after Morgan Stanley upgraded its rating for the stores
group to ‘equal-weight’ from ‘underweight’, saying the stock
looked oversold after the recent evaporation of M&A interest.

Energy giant BP (BP.L: ), added 1.8 percent, despite going
ex-dividend, recouping a small portion of heavy losses it has
suffered as a result of fears on the costs associated with
clearing up an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Panmure Gordon upped its rating for BP to ‘buy’ from ‘sell’.

Ex-dividend factors weighed heavily, taking a hefty 18.47
points off the FTSE 100. Aside from BP, Antofagasta (ANTO.L: ),
Bunzl (BNZL.L: ), G4S (GFS.L: ), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: ), Kingfisher
(KGF.L: ), Wm Morrison (MRW.L: ), Rexam (REX.L: ), Royal Dutch Shell A
(RDSa.L: ) and Royal Dutch Shell B (RDSb.L: ) shares all lost their
payout attractions.

But while BP was buoyant, the weaker oil price (CLc1: )
weighed on explorers Tullow Oil (TLW.L: ) and Cairn Energy, down
0.8 percent and 1 percent respectively.

Power suppliers International Power (IPR.L: ) and Centrica
(CNA.L: ) fell 2.2 percent and 1.1 percent respectively after
Deutsche Bank downgraded its recommendations on both to ‘hold’
from ‘buy’.

Shop price inflation accelerated sharply in April, driven by
commodity prices rises, the reversal of a cut in value-added tax
and the weak pound, a BRC survey found. [ID:nLDE6431HX]

The rate at which British recruiters filled permanent
vacancies slipped last month from March’s 12-year peak as the
public sector appeared poised to rein in hiring, a Recruitment
and Employment Confederation survey found. [ID:nLDE6431UX]

Across the Atlantic, the U.S. April ADP national employment
survey was scheduled for release at 1215 GMT, and April’s
Challenger layoffs survey was due at 1130 GMT. Both could be key
ahead of Friday’s U.S. non-farm payrolls.

Stock Market Money

(Editing by Dan Lalor)

FTSE lower as energy stocks offset firmer miners