FTSE off as investors wait for word from Bernanke
8/30/12 12:10 PM ET (MarketWatch)
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- The main London equities benchmark weakened Thursday, led by miners, as investors played it cautious in the runup to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's much-anticipated speech.
The FTSE 100 index (UKX) was down 0.4% at 5,719.45, its lowest level since Aug. 2.
Shares of WPP PLC(WPP) , the world's largest advertising firm, fell 1.6% as management cut its revenue forecast for 2012 in conjunction with the release of first-half results, pointing to slowing revenue growth in the U.S. and Europe. See: WPP cuts 2012 revenue forecast
European stocks traded lower as markets waited for what Bernanke would say in his Friday speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo., with investors on alert for any clues about potential monetary easing by the U.S. central bank. See: Europe stocks drop ahead of Bernanke speech
Back in the London headlines, Xstrata PLC(XTA) traded down 2.5% as shares of prospective merger partner Glencore International PLC(GLEN) , the commodities trading firm, lost 3%. See more: Qatar Holding to vote against Xstrata bid.
Miners broadly continued their recent downward trend, with Kazakhmys PLC(KAZ) trading down 4.9% and Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) retreating 2.7%.
Sector heavyweights BHP Billiton PLC(BLT) (BHP) (BHP) and Rio Tinto PLC(RIO) (RIO) (RIO) shed 3.3% and 2.1%, respectively. Antofagasta PLC(ANTO) gave up 2.6%, Vedanta Resources PLC(VED) moved 3.2% lower and Anglo American PLC(AAL) sank 3.4%.
Metals prices were mostly lower.
Helping underpin the FTSE 100, shares of Wm. Morrison Supermarkets PLC (MRW) added 1.5%, as French peer Carrefour SA(CA) shot up 6.7% after reporting a narrower-than-expected loss for the first half of the year.
Also higher, supermarkets J Sainsbury PLC(SBRY) climbed 0.3% and Tesco PLC(TSCO) rose 0.7%.
Adding pressure to the London index, Barclays PLC(BARC) (BCS) slipped 1.5%. The bank announced that veteran executive Antony Jenkins has been promoted to take over as chief executive. Barclays taps Jenkins to succeed Diamond as CEO
HSBC Holdings PLC(HSBA) (HBC) dropped 1.1%.
Bucking the trend in banking, shares of Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC(RBS) (RBS) advanced 0.4%.
Traditionally a defensive investment play, British American Tobacco PLC(BATS) rose 1.2%, while investment management firm Hargreaves Lansdown PLC(HL.) edged 0.3% higher.
However, shares of Admiral Group PLC(ADM) dropped 2.8% following first-half results. Said Henry Engelhardt, the insurance firm's chief executive: "In the U.K., following the very significant growth in 2010 and 2011, we continue to slow our rate of growth to a more modest level, which we believe is a sensible response to the increased competition in the market."