Market Report: Centrica has been 'vindicated' in shifting its focus away from Britain

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The Independent Online

Labour's business credentials were dealt a blow in a note on the European energy market from HSBC yesterday. The bank said the decision of Centrica, British Gas's owner, to invest in the US rather than the UK has been "vindicated" by Ed Miliband's pledge last year to freeze energy prices if elected. Analysts said its shift "to higher-producing areas such as Norway and the US and away from the UK" justified its overweight rating, helping the company up 6.9p to 334.8p.

HSBC also downgraded the energy provider SSE, off 8p at 1,417p, due to "increasing uncertainty about the implications of a Scottish referendum".

Another day, another twist in Vodafone's attempted takeover of the Spanish cable operator Ono. After reports last week that it had tabled a second bid, thought to be between €7bn (£6bn) and €8bn, Ono's shareholders yesterday backed plans for a market listing in Madrid. The company's board are said to be still mulling the bid but it piles the pressure on Vodafone, down 5.15p to 224.4p, to up its offer.

The FTSE 100 marked its fifth day of losses yesterday, down 67.12 points at 6,553.78, a five-week low. Retailers led the way down after dire results from WM Morrison spooked investors.

One high street regular to make gains was the DIY group Kingfisher, up 4.5p to 407.4p, It was boosted by strong numbers from Home Retail Group, which rose 10.3p to 215.4p as it announced a sales boost at Homebase.

Despite falling profits and job cuts, Numis was upbeat on Barclays yesterday, saying it is meeting regulators' capital requirements faster than expected. The bank clicked up 1.9p to 235.65p.

On the mid-cap index, the online gambling group made gains after revealing it was on track for a return to growth this year. Investors placed their chips on the table and the company rose 4.5p to 126.6p.

The Aim-listed Equatorial Palm Oil and KEA Petroleum made big gains on City rumours of impending good news from both. Equatorial jumped 2.37p to 8.75p, while KEA added 0.62p to 2.92p.

Gulf Keystone Petroleum slid 23.75p to 120.25p after lowering output guidance on its Shaikan site in Iraq.