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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


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,


(BCS) - Get Barclays Plc Report

edged forward 5p to


Standard Chartered

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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







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

British Telecom



Vodafone AirTouch

(VOD) - Get Vodafone Group Plc Report

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

Cable & Wireless


, as the shares dipped another 24p to



(AZN) - Get Astrazeneca PLC Sponsored ADR 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


Nemax 50

index was up 17.4 to 5865.2.

European telcos were mixed, with

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Dynatrace, Inc. Report

down 1.31 euros to 58.50 ($55.73),

France Telecom


up 0.10 euro to 147.70 and


(TEF) - Get Telefónica SA Report

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


(SAP) - Get SAP SE Report

up 9.61 euros to 204.00,


(EPC) - Get Edgewell Personal Care Co. Report

1.47 euros higher to 78.28 and


up 5.19 euros to 171.50.