LONDON -- In midday trade Wednesday, the
space rocket was firmly stuck on the launching pad, up only 41.1 points to 6516.9. Will someone start the countdown please? The
index of leading technology shares wasn't set for blastoff either, down 56.2 points to 3480.2.
To say that features among the top 100 shares are few is probably the understatement of the day. Among the banks,
Royal Bank of Scotland
moved 70p lower to 985 ($14.93).
took another hit and fell 12p more to 562.
"There's obviously a decent seller out there," commented a senior dealer. "There's already two million traded, that's good turnover in this one for this time of day, but we don't know of any specific reason for the shares' weakness other than the cloud hanging over the sector generally concerning a possible pricing war in the U.K. mortgage market." Just to rub it in,
edged forward 5p to
remained immune to the bank sector shakeout, the theory being that their global spread will see them through. Standard added a couple of pence more to 898, while HSBC, given an extra boost by the
huge gain on the
overnight, rose 20p more to 825.
The bidding for European mobile phone licenses has taken another twist even before the French, German and Belgian auctions get underway with news that
have announced a strategic cooperation agreement for a combined play. A little unsettling for
, both of which eased a few pence. There were more burnt fingers at
Cable & Wireless
, as the shares dipped another 24p to
rose 30p to
31.85 as the company gained full European Union approval for it ulcer treatment Nexium.
Most of Europe's other major stock markets were higher early Wednesday, with the
in Frankfurt up 66.32 to 7070.30 and the
in Paris up 45.82 to 6536.17. The
index was up 17.4 to 5865.2.
European telcos were mixed, with
down 1.31 euros to 58.50 ($55.73),
up 0.10 euro to 147.70 and
up 0.67 euro to 25.45. Equipment maker
was up 2.00 euros to 78.90.
Blue-chip German technology shares were in positive territory, with software maker
up 9.61 euros to 204.00,
1.47 euros higher to 78.28 and
up 5.19 euros to 171.50.