LONDON -- Thursday's long-awaited rally in London seems to have been a flash in the pan as the FTSE 100 turned red Friday morning to stand 42.70 points weaker at 6512.80.
Overshadowing the market is the after-effect of "triple witching" -- the early morning expiry of options, index options and futures contracts -- which brought with it the expected volatile trading as positions unwind.
Says analyst David Thwaites of
, "Some of the optimism we had yesterday has unwound. We are not getting a clear picture because of triple-witching and we will have to wait until we get a lead from the U.S."
IT software provider
led the decliners, plunging 8.7% to 529p ($7.46) as house broker
warned that some analysts' estimates on earnings for the software company is more than a little optimistic.
Telcos also took a beating.
-- one of the star performers Thursday -- dropped 3.5% to
fell 18p to 805 and
lost a quarter penny to 274.25.
Phone equipment makers did little better.
was down 22p at
11.22 despite the announcement that it and systems integrator
have signed a three-year contract with
to provide an optical communications network in Belgium.
One shred of good news was that
, the newly listed provider of services for mobile phones, is joining Vodafone to provide messaging of results from the Sydney Olympics for Vodafone's operations in Australia and New Zealand. iTouch shot up 2.5% to 61.
On the results front,
, the high-tech research and investment house, reported pretax profits had more than tripled to
12.2 million. Durlacher hit a high of 455p in February at the height of the technology boom, but has since been punished. Its shares perked up on today's news, rising 3p to 114.5p.
Europe's other stock markets were lower, weighed down by tech and telecom shares. The
in Paris was off 9.27 to 6628.64 and the
in Frankfurt was down 0.19 to 7048.31. The
index was 56.0 lower to 5956.4.
Some big telcos slipped after
cut its price targets on
. Midday KPN was down 0.18 euro to 29.02 ($25.11) and Swisscom was off 1 franc to 480.50 ($271.18).
However, not all telcos were having a bad day, as
was able to climb 1.45 euros to 44.45 and
was up 0.10 euro to 129.10.
dropped 1.70 euros to 88.20 and
fell 2.50 kronor to 184.00 ($18.96).
In Frankfurt, Internet service provider
tanked after the company was rated "sell" by
. Midday T-Online shares on the Neuer Markt were down 1.55 euros to 28.95.