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FTSE 100 closes above 6,000 despite declines

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by Elaine Frei

The London equities markets were mixed on Tuesday, with the FTSE 100 down and the FTSE 250 a bit higher, but the 100 still managed to close above the 6000 level, ending the session at 6,004.7 for a loss of 0.3 percent on the day. The FTSE 250, meanwhile, added 0.1 percent to 9,892.3.

Pharmaceuticals were down after UBS downgraded GlaxoSmithKline and instead recommended AstraZeneca. GSM lost 1.5 percent to £15.00, while AstraZeneca dropped 0.2 percent to £29.00.

With crude oil prices falling on the day, shares in oil companies were down as well. BP declined by 1.5 percent to 664½p in anticipation of a trading update due tomorrow.

Banks were lower after it was reported that the New York Federal Reserve has ended a ban on any large mergers by Citigroup. The announcement led to rumors that Citigroup might look for a deal in the UK. Three possible targets – Barclays, Lloyds TSB, and Royal Bank of Scotland – all closed lower. Northern Rock was lower, as well, down 0.9 percent to £11.65 on a downgrade from “outperform” to “inline” from Fox-Pitt, Kelton.

Tate & Lyle declined by 1.9 percent to 564½p on worries that its artificial sweetener Splenda might not be safe. The concerns were caused by a US lobbying group that asked the Food and Drug Administration to rescind its approval of the sweetener. T&L defended its product.

Among gainers on the day were copper miner Kazakhmys, up 5.8 percent to £11.81, a record high share price. Meanwhile, retailer Marks & Spencer added 1.5 percent to 564½p.

Water companies were up as well. Pennon added 2.3 percent to £13.54 on the report that Severn Trent will spin off its waste management business. Severn Trent was also up, by 6.3 percent to £11.97.

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News posted: April 4, 2006

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