LONDON (SHARECAST) - Banks, in particular Lloyds, were on the rise today, despite credit ratings agency Moody's saying Britain's cherished triple-AAA credit rating could be under threat if the Eurozone crisis worsens.
Moody’s Investors Service said last night: “Any additional weakening in the macro-economic outlook or a need to support the banking system could temporarily set back the government’s fiscal consolidation efforts. As a result, the outlook on the rating is likely to be sensitive to future developments in the euro area’s debt crisis, even though the UK is not a member of the monetary union."
In other news, European banks asked to borrow €489bn from the European Central Bank’s new three-year loan facility. This is significantly ahead of reported market forecasts of €293bn. A total of 523 banks made loan applications.
Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland were also in demand.
Notably, HSBC was in the red despite performing well early on, after having announced earlier in the day that it is to offload its private banking business in Japan to Credit Suisse for an undisclosed sum. HSBC said that this deal is in line with its global restructuring strategy outlined back in May that will see 30,000 jobs go. The "Strategy Execution Plan" targeted cost savings of $2.5-3.5bn in order to reach the cost efficiency ratio target of 48-52% by 2013.
Old Mutual, the savings and investment group, rose on news that it had agreed terms to sell the Finnish branch of Skandia Life Assurance Company to insurer OP-Pohjola osk. The transaction is part of Old Mutual's plan to streamline its business, with net proceeds after tax going to reduce the group's debt.
Retailers Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury were among some of the worst performers on the Footsie after the GfK NOP UK consumer confidence index fell to its lowest level since February 2009. The index decreased to -33 points in December from -31 the month before. The market consensus had been expecting a small up-tick to -31.
Other FTSE 100 news saw pharmaceuticals firm AstraZeneca enter into a global licensing, co-development, and commercialisation agreement for a cancer treatment drug with Hutchison MediPharma (HMP), a research and development company majority-owned by Chi-Med.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 24.62p +4.23%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 20.26p +3.00%
Schroders (Non-Voting) (SDRC) 1,045.00p +2.55%
GKN (GKN) 180.00p +2.51%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,211.00p +2.37%
Barclays (BARC) 175.35p +2.30%
Old Mutual (OML) 132.00p +2.01%
Wolseley (WOS) 2,048.00p +1.94%
Aviva (AV.) 296.90p +1.68%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,562.00p +1.43%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Essar Energy (ESSR) 171.80p -3.48%
ITV (ITV) 62.15p -3.12%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 563.00p -2.26%
Sage Group (SGE) 285.30p -2.23%
National Grid (NG.) 595.00p -1.98%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,409.00p -1.81%
Tesco (TSCO) 381.20p -1.74%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 304.30p -1.68%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 258.20p -1.68%
Centrica (CNA) 280.00p -1.62%