The FTSE closed a jot down amid a surge of interim results, led lower by financial and resources stocks. SABMiller's (SAB) gains after its rejected tilt at Heineken were in focus, while Scotland's heavily jawboned referendum continued to weigh on sentiment.
At the close, the FTSE 100 was down 2.75 points, or 0.04%, to 6804.21, and the FTSE 250 was down 62.62 points, or 0.4%, to 15,649.2. Wall St opened mixed, mild gains on the Dow outstripping falls on the Nasdaq and S&P 500.
Beverages behemoth SABMiller jumped 9.82% to 3740p as Heineken (HEIN:AS) rejected a takeover offer. SABMiller's move, which helped offset blue-chip falls elsewhere, was possibly designed to protect it from being gobbled up by Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI:BR).
Serco (SRP) led the blue-chip fallers, shedding 3.13% to 305.9p. Thereafter financial stocks acted as ballast. Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) was off 1.74% to 987.5p, followed by Man Group (EMG), down 1.3% to 121.1p, and Lloyds (LLOY), down 1.39% to 73.54p.
Resources stocks were scattered throughout the fallers' board. Glencore (GLEN) was down 0.91% to 355.5p. Commercial property outfits were piloted lower by British Land (BLND), insurers by Old Mutual (OML), and supermarkets by Sainsbury (SBRY).
TUI Travel (TT.) was up 1.56% to 365.7p, after it and TUI AG confirmed they had reached agreement on the terms of a recommended all-share nil-premium merger.
Reach4entertainment (R4E), up 23.51% to 5.88p, has booked an H1 pretax profit of £0.7m, from a loss of £0.1m a year earlier. Revenue was £41.5m, from £35.0m. It described the performance as in line with market expectations.
Webis Holdings (WEB) subsidiary WatchandWager.com has signed a further two-year agreement with the HKJC Horse Race Betting Ltd, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong Jockey Club to provide access to the HKJC pari-mutuel pools. Shares in Webis rose 14.29% to 3p.
Cancer fighting proton beam machine-maker Advanced Oncotherapy (AVO) jumped 15.75% to 4.23p after it was tipped in the weekend papers.
Distil (DIS) warned its full year results will be significantly below current market expectations. Its shares collapsed 19.51% to 0.83p.
Kazakhstan-focused Frontier Mining (FML) posted a loss of $21.4m for the six months to the end of June, up from $4.6m a year ago. Its shares plunged 26.23% to 0.45p.
Testing kit specialist Immunodiagnostic Systems (IDH) dived 18.62% to 382.5p as it said revenues would miss expectations this year as demand fell causing an early problem for its five-year growth plan.
Stateside, US capacity utilisation for total industry fell 0.3 percentage point in August to 78.8%, a rate 1.0 percentage point above its year-ago level, the US Federal Reserve said today. It added the US index of industrial production fell 0.1% in August, and the index for manufacturing output decreased 0.4%. The total index fell to 104.1 from 104.2,
The Fed Reserve Bank of New York's Empire State Manufacturing Survey showed business activity expanded for New York manufacturers in September. The headline general business conditions index rose 13 points to 27.5, a multiyear high. A rise to 16.4 was forecast.
Euro zone's non-seasonally adjusted external trade surplus was 21.2bn euros in July, from 18.0bn euros a year earlier. Exports rose 3% year on year, while imports gained 1%.
Plastics Capital (PLA), the niche plastics products group, announces an update on trading for the financial year to date and is pleased to confirm that the Company is trading broadly in line with market expectations. Its shares fell 10.82% to 103p.
Software group Micro Focus (MCRO) surged 15.28% to 971.25p on confirming a $2.4bn merger with US peer Attachmate. The cash-generative UK group also said its 60p a share cash return was unaffected by a deal that it saw as 'a rare opportunity to achieve a significant increase in the scale and breadth' of the business.
Greggs (GRG) booked a 12.73% gain to 604.25p as a strong Q3 trading statement triggered earnings upgrades. It reported like-for-like sales up 5.4% over the 11 weeks to 13 Sept. It said FY profits will be 'materially ahead' of management expectations.
Small cap IT and recruitment specialist Networkers International (NWKI) fell sharply as H1 results disappointed. Basic EPS fell 7% to 2.04p as its telecoms and banking teams struggle. The shares fell 10.4% to 56p.