Fears over US and China continue to pull FTSE down
LONDON market heavyweight Vodafone saw its shares boosted as it upped its earnings outlook and delivered a better-than-expected set of half-year figures.
The mobile phone giant was joined on the risers board by ITV and National Grid in a busy session for corporate updates.
But the wider FTSE 100 Index fell 19.9 points to 6275.3, as market sentiment continued to be hit by US interest rate hike fears and renewed concerns over China after another disappointing trade data from the world's second biggest economy.
Germany's DAX was 0.2 per cent up, while France's Cac 40 was flat. In New York the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 35 points lower in early trading.
The pound was a cent up against the euro at 1.43, as Prime Minister David Cameron said protection of the single market for Britain and other non-euro countries was one of his key proposals for a new deal with the European Union. Sterling was also flat against the US dollar at 1.51.
Among stocks, Vodafone surged almost 2 per cent as it upped its full-year guidance after returning to growth in underlying earnings.
The telecoms giant lifted 8.4p to 222.8p, after it said underlying earnings growth in the first half lifted by 1.9 per cent to £5.8 billion, and it now expects a full-year haul of £11.7bn to £12bn, having previously guided at around £11.5bn.
ITV was another gainer after it said the Rugby World Cup helped improve under-pressure audience figures.
The broadcaster lifted 4.7p to 261.5p, as it said it was on track for another double-digit rise in annual profits after all parts of the business performed well over the first nine months of its financial year.
The group's overall share of the TV audience fell 3 per cent to 21.2 per cent in the 10 months to October 31, but this marked an improvement since its half year, when it dropped to its lowest level for at least 15 years, at 21.1 per cent.
National Grid was up more than one per cent, or 13.3p to 909.3p, after it announced the potential sale of a majority stake in its gas distribution business, estimated at £10bn, in an effort to rebalance its portfolio.
Credit checking firm Experian was the biggest blue chip riser – up more than 7 per cent or 83p to 1187p – after it raised its interim dividend by 2 per cent and confirmed robust revenue growth as it posted half-year figures.
Prudential was 4 per cent or 60.5p lower at 1489.5p after it revealed £3.9bn in retail investor outflows from its M&G asset management arm during the third quarter amid volatile market conditions.
This overshadowed figures showing new business profit across the group lifted 13 per cent to £1.8bn in the first nine months of the year, driven by a 24 per cent jump in Asian new business profit to £976 million.
The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 Index were Experian up 83p at 1187p, Vodafone up 8.4p at 222.8p, Inmarsat up 22p at 1036p and Coca-Cola HBC up 31p at 1545p.
The biggest fallers in the FTSE 100 Index were Anglo American down 24.3p at 491.8p, Wolseley down 175p at 3630p, Glencore down 4.7p at 105.1p and Burberry down 55p to 1319p.