The FTSE 100 was down 32.67 points at 4130.94 and the FTSE 250 eased to 5792.89, down 8.93 points, at noon.
Growing concerns about the collapse in commodities kept the mining sector depressed with Lonmin down 13.28 per cent or 87.5p at 571.4p. Xstrata wasn’t far behind, losing 10.48 per cent or 66p to 563.5p, on concerns about its debt pile and fears for Glencore, the 35 per cent share holder whose credit derivative spreads continue to widen. The fall came despite some supportive comments from Merrill Lynch, which said that the stock had been oversold and the nervousness around Glencore had been “overdone”.
“With Xstrata having been one of the hardest hit mining stocks recently, we believe that it has some of the greatest upside risk in the event that sentiment improves slightly,” the broker said.
Misys was strong, gaining 11.8 per cent or 10p to 94.75p, after UBS switched its stance on the stock “buy” from “neutral”.
Elsewhere, parts of the housing sector were strong after Berkeley, up 30p at 818.5p, published interim results, revealing a drop in profits but reassuring the market on its cash position.
Numis reiterated its “buy” stance after the results, saying: “Overall, we see Berkeley as the safest stock in the UK house building sector but this does come at a high price relative to Bellway (which also has quite good asset and financial security) which we continue to prefer on valuation attractions.”
Merrill Lynch unsettled the oil & gas sector, lowering its 2009 crude price forecast to $50 per barrel and warning that there was a risk of a temporary slide below $25 per barrel. The forecast added to the gloom induced by falling crude prices, sending Tullow Oil down 6.77 per cent or 33.5p to 461p and BG to 799p, down 6 per cent or 51p.Reuse content