FTSE steady as US firms disappoint

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The FTSE 100 fell 1.6 points to 6018.4 in early trading

The London market has held firm despite continued uncertainty in Egypt and lacklustre trading on Wall Street due to disappointing corporate earnings.

The FTSE 100 Index was 1.6 points lower at 6018.4 after the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed in negative territory in the wake of figures from Cisco Systems and Credit Suisse that failed to meet expectations.

Cadbury owner Kraft also lowered its forecasts for this year after Wall Street’s close.

The mood was further impacted by the continued stand-off in Egypt as anti-government protesters kept up pressure for the resignation of president Hosni Mubarak.

In a quiet session for corporate news, high street retailers Next and Marks & Spencer fell 48p to 2015p and 5.7p to 365.9p respectively as investors continued to fret about the twin threat of rising prices and weak demand.

Drinks giant Diageo put back some of Thursday’s post-results fall with a rise of 14p to 1209p, while leisure group Whitbread continued its run of form by climbing 31p to 1869p.

Carillion topped the FTSE 250 Index with a rise of 25.1p to 410.3p after announcing the acquisition of green support services business Eaga for £306.5 million.

Meanwhile, shares in online grocer Ocado dropped 14% or 39.8p to 245.2p after the John Lewis pension trust sold its 10% stake in the recently-listed company at a 7% discount to Thursday’s closing price.

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