FTSE Pulls Back as Greece Frustration Flares (Article by Max Julius in New Model Adviser on 10.02.2012)

10 Feb

FTSE pulls back as Greece frustration flares

Britain’s FTSE 100 retreated on Friday amid frustration that Greece had not in fact secured a €130 billion (£109 billion) bailout, despite signs on Thursday that a deal to avert a messy default had been reached.

The UK index of blue-chip shares weakened 0.3%, or 18 points, to 5,878 and the All Share index slipped 0.3%, or nine points, to 3,037.

Greek dead horse flogged some more

Eurozone finance ministers on Thursday demanded more steps and a parliamentary seal of approval from Greece before providing the aid, after Greek political leaders said they had signed off on reforms to secure the country a second European Union bailout.

‘Failure to reach an approval overnight was probably well anticipated, but leaves the market in limbo and prone to headlines over the next few days,’ said Khrishnamoorthy Sooben, strategist at Barclays Capital.

And Marc Ostwald, strategist at Monument Securities, said the ‘hard-balling’ tactics of Greece’s international lenders was understandable, given the country’s ‘litany of non-delivery’ and concerns about its post-election landscape.

But he added that the move ‘equally ignores the fact that neither the new or the old targets were realistically attainable, and that this is in fact a futile exercise in proverbially flogging a dead horse’.

Stock markets elsewhere in Europe also slipped: Germany’s DAX index dropped 0.81% to 6,734, France’s CAC 40 index was 0.69% lower at 3,401, and the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares faded 0.52% to 1,068.

The euro was off 0.14% versus the dollar at $1.327, while commodities such as copper and oil fell. Gold continued its recent correlation with risk assets, giving up 0.7% to $1,719.

Tough quarter for Barclays

Barclays (BARC.L) topped the leader board on the FTSE, climbing 8p to 241p, in volatile trading after the bank warned it may fall short of a medium-term profitability target but upped its dividend and cut its investment bank pool by a third.

The lender posted a pre-tax profit of £5.9 billion for 2011, missing market expectations and down 3% on the year as market turmoil triggered by Europe’s debt sorrows hit earnings in the fourth quarter.

Saying fourth-quarter profit before tax of £528 million fell short of their estimates by 13%, analysts at Espirito Santo Investment Bank branded the earnings for the period ‘poor’. But they added that they were of the belief it was a ‘one-off negative quarter’, since management did not comment on any sustained negativity in its outlook statement.

ICAP (IAP.L) was the biggest loser on the index, falling 14p to 367p after Goldman Sachs downgraded the inter-dealer broker to ‘neutral’ from ‘buy’.

On the FTSE 250, Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC.L) shed 3.3p, or 7.4%, to 40.5p after the group warned its business in Panama had suffered amid increasing competition and weak demand from corporate clients.

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