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25-07-2012 11:40:00

LONDON MARKETS: U.K. Stocks Wobble On GDP Data And Greek Debt

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By Preeti Upadhyaya, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.K. stocks struggled for direction Wednesday thanks to fresh concerns over Greece's ability to repay debt and a 0.7% contraction in U.K. gross domestic product, while miners and banks lent support.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.1% at 5,503.14.

Keeping gains at bay, the U.K.'s GDP dropped 0.7% in the second-quarter compared with the first quarter of 2012, below analysts' prediction of a 0.2% drop.

Investors further remained cautious as they looked to overnight drops on Asian bourses and lower U.S. markets Tuesday, where market participants continued to fret over the possibility of a full government bailout in Spain and a new round of debt restructuring in Greece.

Weighing the index, BT Group PLC (BT) dropped 4.5% after reporting first-quarter earnings that fell short of expectations, with disappointing revenue figures.

Also on the move down, Johnson Matthey PLC fell 4% following first-quarter results. Tim Stevenson, chairman of Johnson Matthey, cited "a substantial reduction in operating profit from Precious Metal Products Division which was particularly impacted by the effect of lower precious metal prices."

British American Tobacco PLC (BTI) fell 1.3% after posting slight gains in profit but flat volumes.

Lending support in London, semiconductor firm ARM Holdings PLC added 5.7% after its second-quarter results beat expectations. ARM Chief Executive Warren East said, "ARM's royalty revenues continued to outperform the overall semiconductor industry as our customers gained market share within existing markets and launched products which are taking ARM technology into new markets."

Further lifting the index, banking major HSBC Holdings PLC (HBC) picked up 1.3%, while Standard Chartered PLC rose 1.1%. Barclays PLC (BCS) gained 0.8%.

Mining firms lent additional support, as metal prices rose across the board. Vedanta Resources PLC added 1.6% and Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. PLC climbed 1%. Industry giant Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) gained 0.8%.

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 25, 2012 05:40 ET (09:40 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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