London - British stocks opened little changed on Friday although heavyweight energy shares were under pressure as the price of oil fell after the government's defeat in parliament over participating in any US-led military action against Syria.
Energy shares, which had spiked in tandem with oil prices when the prospect of attacking Syria appeared imminent earlier in the week, took around 7 points off the FTSE 100 as the cost of oil tracked back.
Britain's top shares fell 6.20 points to 6,476.85, by 07h28 GMT, having added 0.8 percent in the previous session, although the index kept well clear of levels that might otherwise test investors resolve.
“News that UK will not attack Syria may give some relief this morning and so long as FTSE stays up above 6,390-6,400 levels upside seems to be on the cards thanks largely to Vodafone yesterday,” Jawaid Afsar, sales trader at SecurEquity, said.
“Overall though any weakness below 6,400 level and we could test the 200 day level (around 6,320),” he said.
Strong gains on Thursday helped the index erase some of the losses sustained during the month by the broader index, which remains weighed upon by concerns over the impact of a potential wind down of stimulus in the United States with London's blue chips set to close August down around 2 percent.
Most sectors were flat on Friday reflecting what is expected to be a subdued trading session ahead of the month-end and a long holiday weekend in the United States, although telecoms added 2 points to the index and remained buoyant after Vodafone confirmed on Thursday it was in talks to sell its stake in its US joint venture with Verizon.
Chip designer ARM Holdings was the top individual gainer, rising 1.8 percent after Deutsche Bank double upgraded the company to “buy” from “sell” after a pull-back in ARM's share price of around 20 percent since its May peak.
“Our analysis suggests a limited impact on ARM's earning per share growth even if (US rival) Intel gains 10 percent unit share by 2016 and we deem a high-end slowdown as largely in the price,” Deutsche Bank says in a note.
But financials including banks - the major laggards in August - were down. - Reuters