LONDON -- In midday trade Wednesday, the

FTSE 100

space rocket was firmly stuck on the launching pad, up only 41.1 points to 6516.9. Will someone start the countdown please? The

Techmark

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).

Lloyds TSB

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,

Barclays

(BCS) - Get Report

edged forward 5p to

15.05.

Standard Chartered

and

HSBC

(HBC)

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

Hang Seng

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

Hutchison Whampoa

,

NTT DoCoMo

(NTT)

and

KPN

(KPN)

have announced a strategic cooperation agreement for a combined play. A little unsettling for

British Telecom

(BTY)

and

Vodafone AirTouch

(VOD) - Get Report

, both of which eased a few pence. There were more burnt fingers at

Cable & Wireless

(CWP)

, as the shares dipped another 24p to

12.31.

AstraZeneca

(AZN) - Get Report

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

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt up 66.32 to 7070.30 and the

CAC 40

in Paris up 45.82 to 6536.17. The

Neuer Markt's

tech-heavy

Nemax 50

index was up 17.4 to 5865.2.

European telcos were mixed, with

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

down 1.31 euros to 58.50 ($55.73),

France Telecom

(FTE)

up 0.10 euro to 147.70 and

Telefonica

(TEF) - Get Report

up 0.67 euro to 25.45. Equipment maker

Alcatel

(ALA)

was up 2.00 euros to 78.90.

Blue-chip German technology shares were in positive territory, with software maker

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

up 9.61 euros to 204.00,

Infineon

(EPC) - Get Report

1.47 euros higher to 78.28 and

Siemens

up 5.19 euros to 171.50.