Weakness in integrated oils and banks pulled leading share index lower on Thursday, with both sectors reversing recent gains, although overall loses were limited by a rally in mining stocks and expectations for a firm start on Wall Street.
At 11.46 a.m, the FTSE 100 index <.FTSE> was down 5.82 points or 0.1 percent at 5,939.61, having shed 0.2 percent in the previous session following five successive days of gains, the longest winning streak since last summer.
Beware the Ides of March! The 15th day of the month was a particularly bad day for Julius Caesar, and it seems as if investors are rather nervous themselves today, said Chris Beauchamp, Market Analyst at IG Index.
Having faltered yesterday in its latest drive on 6,000, the FTSE remains unable to make much headway, even if there is as yet no bad news that seems capable of taking it lower, Beauchamp added.
Energy stocks <.FTNMX0530> knocked the most points off the FTSE 100 index, led by BP
Banks <.FTNMX8350> also fell back on a bout of profit-taking, with global heavyweight HSBC
Miners <.FTNMX1770>, however, Wednesday's biggest casualties, enjoyed a rebound, tracking a recovery in copper prices, up 0.4 percent.
Shire shares were already under pressure after the drugmaker pulled its application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of its Replagal drug to treat Fabry disease, a rare genetic disorder.
Withdrawing the U.S. Replagal regulatory filing on more onerous FDA clinical requirements is a surprise setback for Shire, Jefferies said in a note, estimating that removing $95 million peak U.S. Replagal sales from its model would cut earnings per share by between 2 percent and 3 percent.
But elsewhere in the stores sector, clothing retailer Next
Aided by share buybacks, we believe this will be another year of double-digit growth in EPS, UBS said in a note.
Marks & Spencer
U.S. stock index futures pointed to modest early gains on Wall Street, with investors awaiting a batch of data, including February U.S. PPI numbers, and U.S. weekly jobless claims at 12.30 p.m.
(Editing by David Holmes)