REFILE-Euro zone, Korea concerns keep FTSE under pressure

(Refiles to fix spelling of peninsula in first paragraph)

* FTSE 100 falls 0.1 percent, hits 6-wk low

* Results lift Compass, Johnson Matthey

* Defensives, insurers under pressure

By Simon Falush

LONDON, Nov 24 (BestGrowthStock) – Worries that the euro zone debt
crisis will escalate and concern about military action in the
Korean peninsula kept Britain’s top shares pinned near a six
week low on Wednesday.

By 0912 GMT the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was 4.61 points or 0.1
percent lower at 5,576.67 touching a six week low for a second
day after it closed 1.8 percent lower on Tuesday.

North Korea shelled a South Korean island on Tuesday in one
of the most serious incidents on the peninsular since the Korean
war ended in 1953.

A statement from North Korea on Wednesday which accused its
southern neighbour of “reckless military provocation,” kept the
focus on geopolitical risk.

This, combined with concerns that a rescue package for
Ireland would not be enough to stop a mounting financial crisis
in the euro zone spreading to other economies, kept investors
nervous on equities and snuffed out an early rise.

“Worries about sovereign debt are not going away, there are
big question marks over Spain and Portugal and it’s not a
surprise to me that we are seeing the market drifting back,”
said Yusuf Heusen, senior sales trader at IG Markets.

But banks offered some support as investors repositioned
themselves after hefty falls in the sector. Heavyweight HSBC
(HSBA.L: ) added 0.7 percent.

Some positive corporate data boosted sentiment, with Compass
Group (CPG.L: ) and Johnson Matthey (JMAT.L: ) gaining after
forecast-beating results.

Compass Group gained 1 percent after the world’s biggest
contract caterer beat profits with an 18 percent rise in
full-year profits and lifting dividends by a third.

Platinum refiner Johnson Matthey (JMAT.L: ) added 1.8 percent
after said first-half profit rose 44 percent, beating forecasts,
lifted by growing demand for its vehicle catalysts and higher
platinum group metal prices.

Intertek (ITRK.L: ) and Capita Group (CPI.L: ) were the top
gainers, adding 3.3 and 1.9 percent, respectively, after Goldman
Sachs added both to its “conviction buy” list in a sector
review.

However the broader market trend was lower, with insurers
such as Aviva (AV.L: ) and retailers, including Next (NXT.L: ),
firmly in negative territory.

Defensive stocks like pharmaceuticals were not exempt from
the downward pressure. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: ) fell 0.6
percent.

The main domestic economic focus on Wednesday will be the
second reading of third-quarter GDP, with no change expected to
the preliminary 0.8 percent growth figure for the quarter, or
2.8 percent growth year-on-year.

Third-quarter British business inventories are also set to
be released at 0930 GMT.

Also later Wednesday, the Irish government will release
details of its four-year austerity plan, as it looks to save 15
billion euros to help tackle its debt crisis.

With U.S. markets closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday and
only trading for a half day on Friday, a batch of data will be
released on Wednesday including latest initial jobless claims,
October personal income and consumption numbers, and October
durable goods, all due at 1330 GMT.

Hedge fund firm Man Group (EMG.L: ) was the top loser, down
2.9 percent after its flagship AHL fund posted a 1.8 percent
fall for the last week. It was also weighed after going
ex-dividend alongside Amec (AMEC.L: ) and Next (NXT.L: ).
(Editing by Louise Heavens)

REFILE-Euro zone, Korea concerns keep FTSE under pressure