LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s top share index stalled near a 15-year high on Friday as traders remain cautious about whether a deal can be struck on Greece’s debts, although the market was supported by encouraging earnings from insurer Standard Life.
Standard Life rose 2.9 per cent, the top gainer on the FTSE 100, after its operating profit jumped 19 per cent to 604 million pounds ($932 million) and it announced a bigger than expected final dividend.
Britain’s FTSE 100 edged up just 1.38 points, flat in per centage terms, to 6,890.28 points as of 0833 GMT. The index is 0.5 per cent off a 15-year high of 6,921.32 hit on Wednesday.
Euro zone finance ministers meet later on Friday, with Greece and its creditors still seemingly far apart over the country’s lending programme.
Germany has rejected a Greek proposal for a six-month extension to its euro zone loan agreement, saying it is “not a substantial solution” because it does not commit Athens to stick to the conditions of its international bailout.
“The fact that Germany voiced their objections on the Greek application to extend their loans wasn’t entirely shocking, and this back and forth will continue will continue right up until the deadline,” David Madden, market analyst at IG, said.
“Nobody wants to aggressively buy the market at a 15-year high when there’s the possibility of quick sell-offs on headlines to do with Greece, even if you do take the view some sort of deal will be struck eventually.”
Also weighing on the market was Kingfisher, which dropped 2.7 per cent to the bottom of the index, after Barclays downgraded the home improvement retailer to “underweight” from “equal weight”.
“Kingfisher’s earnings momentum has been negative for some time and ahead of the new CEO’s business update we believe it will remain so as underlying business trends don’t seem to have improved,” analysts at Barclays said in a note.
“We expect earnings estimates to continue being under pressure hence we expect shares to continue to underperform the market in line with negative earnings revisions.”