Amec and Vodafone weigh on FTSE

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MOBILE phone giant Vodafone dragged the Footsie down yesterday as traders fretted that it was lining up an expensive takeover bid for German cable operator Kable Deutschland.

The heavily-weighted stock dropped 2.4 per cent or 4.1p to 167.55p amid concerns over weakness in its southern European business.

Engineering firm Amec was the biggest blue-chip faller – down 7.3 per cent or 82p at 1,072p – despite hiking its dividend by 20 per cent as traders instead focussed on its modest growth outlook, which prompted profit taking.

Mining giant Rio Tinto dipped by 11.5p to 3,745.5p after unveiling its first full-year loss.

The wider FTSE 100 index ended the day down 31.75 points at 6,327.36, having touched an intra-day five-year high during Wednesday’s session.

Clearly in romantic mood, IG market analyst Chris Beauchamp said: “Upward progress in the markets at the moment is harder than finding a reasonably-priced bunch of flowers at 7pm on Valentine’s Day.

“However, markets continue to cling stubbornly near to recent highs, which still seems to suggest investors haven’t yet fallen entirely out of love with risk.”

Shares in engine maker Rolls-Royce broke through the 1,000p level for the first time and hit the top of the risers’ board after the firm posted its tenth successive year of profits growth. The stock closed up 32.5p at 1,017p.

Aberdeen Asset Management was hot on its heels – climbing 10.4p to close at 426.4p – after its takeover of Artio Global and its taking of a controlling stake in SVG Advisers prompted analysts at Canaccord Genuity to upgrade “buy” from “hold”. RBC Capital Markets disagreed, arguing the deal would limit cash returns to shareholders.

NEW YORK: The S&P 500 ended a third straight session of minimal gains last night, helped by a flurry of merger activity, though investors expect a pullback, with major averages near multi-year highs.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 8.98 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 13,973.93 while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index ended up 1.07 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 1,521.40. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 1.78 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 3,198.66 at the close.