Shares struggled to make headway in London early this week with the FTSE 100 index sticking in negative territory.
By midday on Tuesday, the main index was down 61.5 points at 6422.2 on thin levels of trading. Prospects for a recovery were dealt a blow by a further slide on Wall Street, although there were glimmers of good news in the engineering sector.
Security and fire protection group Williams advanced 6p to 360p after speculation mounted that it could yet receive a further, third, offer from US firm Tyco International. However, analysts dismissed the rumours, saying talk of renewed discussions was over-optimistic. Broker Albert E Sharp trimmed its full year forecast for Williams’ profits but repeated its `accumulate’ stance on the stock. The broker is forecasting pre-tax profits of £308m, down from £317m after a product recall at Walter Kidde.
Continued enthusiasm for aerospace sector shares saw several gainers, including Smiths Industries, which was up 5.75p at 883.25p following upbeat news from Boeing. British Aerospace did not benefit, and was down 2.25p at 434p.
Electronics specialists were prominent among the gainers as analysts woke up to the high added-value of their earnings streams. Racal was up 4p to 402.5p, while Pressac gained 30.5p to 258p, after reporting strong orders from the telecoms industry.