LONDON -- The FTSE 100 got off to a roaring start after Wall Street's rise overnight, but the pace proved too hot to handle and by midmorning the market was 18.00 points lower to 6599.90.

Compass Group

rose 21p to 820 (US$12.87), sentiment boosted by a 10.6 million-pound acquisition of an Italian firm.


gained 85p to 12.92 pounds after giving details of new contracts worth more than 100 million pounds, and


was up 80p to 52.50 pounds, helped by the acquisition of

Software Resource

, an IT solutions company.


(BRG) - Get Report

advanced 36p to 342 on the company's demerger proposal. It intends to separate its two principal businesses,



BG International





jumped 31p to 517 after revealing top-of-the-range pretax profits of 734 million pounds and an e-commerce strategy, which includes proposals to split the group into five separate units.

There's even some good news for tech stocks after the traumatic last couple of days. Helped by the



BATM Advanced Communications

recovered 327p to 68.42 pounds and

Kewill Systems

improved 283p to 26.00 pounds.

Geo Interactive Media

rallied 125p to 19.62 pounds.

Baltimore Technologies

was 5.00 pounds ahead at one point, but then fell back to stand 258p down to 87.65 pounds. Similarly


made early progress, only to turn the gain into a loss of 22p to 48.65 pounds.

is looking like the last thing anyone should buy. It fell to 277.5p before steadying slightly to stand 35p lower at 285.



index of leading technology stocks was up 64.6 points to 4651.9.

The banks attracted some support this morning, with


(BCS) - Get Report

TST Recommends

25p higher to 15.22 pounds and

Lloyds TSB

rising 14p to 614.



was up 7p to 737.

The rest of Europe's stock markets were solidly in positive territory, with the

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt up 68.59 to 7876.52 and the

CAC 40

in Paris up 52.36 to 6373.23.

German technology stocks were in demand, but blue-chip tech stocks were mixed.



fell 0.60 euro to 169.40 (US$164.84), while


(SAP) - Get Report

rose 34.70 euros to 944.70 and


(EPC) - Get Report

climbed 1.90 euros to 130.90.

The debut of

Lycos Europe

on the

Neuer Markt

was met with little enthusiasm, as the stock fell below its issue price of 24 euros. By midday, the Internet company had recovered slightly to 23.75 euros.

Drugs maker


continued to climb on news it would float a biotech unit. The stock was up 3.93 euros to 142.98. Other companies in the sector were also higher, with



up 0.54 euro to 45.79.

Telcos around Europe were having a good session.

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

climbed 1.71 euros to 90.70,

France Telecom


was up 5.40 euros to 190.70 and


(TEF) - Get Report

was 0.32 euro higher to 47.05.