LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s main equity index was little changed on Monday, helped by solid results from consumer-goods company Reckitt Benckiser (RB.L) and strong data about Chinese corporate profits.
Concern about conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East still made many investors nervous. Outflows at Aberdeen Asset Management ADN.L, a fund manager focussed on emerging markets, also kept gains on the FTSE 100 .FTSE in check.
Reckitt was the top FTSE riser, up 2.9 percent, after the maker of Durex condoms and Nurofen painkilling tablets recorded a 3 percent increase in organic revenues and said it would spin off its shrinking Suboxone pharmaceuticals business.
The larger consumer-goods group Unilever (ULVR.L) gained 0.6 percent, also helped by a target hike at Citi.
“Reckitt posted decent numbers and that should lift the sector,” Manoj Ladwa, head of trading at TJM Partners, said.
Companies which sell consumer staples added 10 points to the FTSE, which was up 2.95 points, flat in percentage terms, at 6,794.50 points by 0753 GMT (8.53 a.m. BST).
Companies which deal in basic materials added another 2.3 points as official data showed profits earned by industrial firms in China, the world’s largest consumer of metals, rose 17.9 percent in June, double its 8.9 percent rise in May.
The reading reinforced market expectations that the Chinese economy is pushing through its recent slowdown as the government uses targeted stimulus measures to support growth.
The FTSE has struggled to make much headway in recent weeks. The Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip and tensions between Western powers and Russia over the downing of an airliner in Ukraine unnerved investors.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union on Russian officials and companies would only make Russia more economically independent.
Investment firms fell after Aberdeen said its assets dipped in the quarter through June, when one client withdrew a large amount from some of its funds. Discounting that withdrawal, the firm said, investor sentiment had improved.
Reporting By Francesco Canepa; Editing by Larry King