FTSE up on commods; Ireland downgrade hurts banks

By Tricia Wright

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s top share index edged higher on Friday, supported by miners and energy stocks which recovered after falls the previous session, while banks eased after Moody’s slashed Ireland’s credit rating.

By 0922 GMT, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was up 3.43 points, or 0.1 percent, at 5,884.55, after it closed 1.06 points lower on Thursday at 5,881.12.

Banks (.FTNMX8350: ) were out of favor, with investors dogged by persistent concerns over euro zone debt after Moody’s Investors Service slashed Ireland’s credit rating by five notches to Baa1 from Aa2.

The credit ratings agency warned further downgrades could follow if Ireland was unable to stabilize debt metrics in the foreseeable future.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: ) was flat, outperforming its sector peers, after agreeing the sale of non-core project finance assets to the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.

“The banks are down because of the Moody’s downgrade of Ireland,” Michael Hewson, market analyst at CMC Markets, said.

“Miners and oils are a little bit higher, but they were lower yesterday, so you’re just getting a bit of (repositioning) from yesterday’s down moves in both those sectors.”

ASTRAZENECA WEAK

AstraZeneca (AZN.L: ) topped the blue-chip fallers’ list, off 4.7 percent, after its new heart medicine Brilinta failed to win approval from U.S. regulators, delaying a vital new product designed to rival Plavix, the world’s second-biggest selling drug.

Aggreko (AGGK.L: ) shed 1.5 percent after the temporary power supplier issued a trading update, which brokers viewed as positive but saw the shares as fully valued.

On the upside, miners (.FTNMX1770: ) and energy (.FTNMX0530: ) shares, the main weight on London’s blue-chips on Thursday, bounced back in tandem with commodity prices.

Property stocks rose after Credit Suisse upgraded UK real estate to “overweight” in a strategy review. Traders also pointed to an upbeat note on the sector from Barclays Capital.

British Land (BLND.L: ) added 2.2 percent, with Land Securities (LAND.L: ) and Hammerson (HMSO.L: ) both up 1.9 percent.

Autonomy (AUTN.L: ) was among the top FTSE 100 risers, up 2.9 percent, with Panmure Gordon citing a positive read-across from results overnight from tech firms Oracle Corp (ORCL.O: ), Accenture (ACN.N: ) and Research In Motion (RIM.TO: ).

Panmure lifted its target price for Autonomy. The share price rise follows recent bid speculation.

British consumer morale plunged in November to its lowest since the UK was in the depths of recession, as the announcement of government spending cuts raised fears over the future, a survey showed on Friday.

The Nationwide Consumer Confidence index fell 7 points to 45 in November, its fourth consecutive fall and the lowest since March 2009.

No important British macroeconomic data is due on Friday. U.S. November lead indicators are scheduled for release at 1500 GMT.

(Editing by Erica Billingham)

FTSE up on commods; Ireland downgrade hurts banks