FTSE perks up, but struggles to find momentum

<p>Investors remained cautious in early trading as equity markets traded marginally better. Strength in retailers and real estate helped keep theFTSE in the blue, whilst miners […]</p>

Investors remained cautious in early trading as equity markets traded marginally better. Strength in retailers and real estate helped keep theFTSE in the blue, whilst miners and banks weighed on the index. By mid-morning the FTSE was trading 12 points better at 5975, but was struggling to find momentum.

Top of the leader-board was hedge fund manager Man Group; posting 3% gains after Merrill Lynch moved them onto their Europe One List. Real Estate giant British Land posted 2.5% gains as the sector was lifted by a positive note from JPMorgan. Investors were also buyers of retailers, as John Lewis’s Waitrose reported strong weekly sales numbers. Solid updates from a bell weather of the high street proved enough to drive listed retailers better, Next and M&S both featured on the winners list.

Trader optimism didn’t extend however to the heavyweight Banks and Miners, crucially weighing on any FTSE advance. Banks continue to come under pressure as sovereign debt issues remain, particular in the light of Moody’s recent downgrade in Ireland. Barclays and RBS all traded to new monthly lows. The mining sector conspired to taint theFTSE as strong first-quarter GDP growth and high inflation from China continue to fuel concern that further fiscal tightening will be required.

Traders remain nervous as US reporting season takes hold, signs of improving profit are encouraging, but with stuttering growth a likely prospect, it remains likely that Investors will take a cautious approach to investment as we head towards Easter.

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