FTSE untroubled by Greek impasse

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SHARES in Britain’s listed water companies enjoyed a lift yesterday after regulator Ofwat ­softened its tone on new ­regulation.

John Musk, analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said previous proposals had the potential to lower cash-flow predictability in the sector, but a clarification published on Tuesday evening sought to meet the firms half-way.

“This is a softer tone and suggests that there may be a middle ground here,” he said.

United Utilities added more than 2 per cent at 673.5p and Severn Trent was up 1.4 per cent at 1,569p.

The wider market ignored the failure of Greece’s lenders to agree a new debt deal but lacked a reason to push higher.

The FTSE 100 Index closed just 3.93 points higher at 5,752.03, a cautious advance.

Platinum refiner Johnson Matthey saw shares fall 6 per cent to match a drop in half-year profits on the back of softer metal prices. Shares fell 135p to 2,190p as it warned its performance was unlikely to improve in the second half.

Compass – the world’s biggest catering company – was also down after a 7 per cent rise in underlying profits fell short of expectations. Shares regained some of their losses during the afternoon but closed 9.5p lower at 699.5p.

Supermarket giant Tesco was slightly lower as analysts issued a flurry of broker notes following an investor day. The shares slipped 1.3p at 316p as recommendations proved as diverse as the investment houses issuing them.

Outside the FTSE 100, Direct Line was up 1.5p at 197p after two brokers initiated coverage of the insurance firm, which floated last month. Both gave positive recommendations.

Among the Scottish stocks, eye scanner maker Optos added 8p or 5 per cent to 173p after results came in slightly ahead of previous guidance.

In New York, the Dow was up to 12836.89, ahead 48.38 as an upbeat report on jobless figures saw off jitters over the Greek standoff. Trading volumes were lighter than normal, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. New jobless claims in the US totalled 410,000 last week, dented by the effect of Superstorm Sandy but better than a predicted 423,000.