RESURGENT first-quarter results from blue-chip firms BP and Lloyds Banking Group were not enough to lift a downbeat FTSE 100, dragged lower by more eurozone economic gloom.

The London market closed down 27.9 points at 6430.1, a 0.4 per cent fall, as investors await the latest decision of the European Central Bank (ECB) tomorrow, with policyholders widely expected to cut interest rates later this week.

The ECB is expected to cut its main interest rate from the all-time low of 0.75 per cent, after figures yesteday showed eurozone unemployment at a record high of 12.1 per cent, while inflation fell in the single currency area.

Banking stocks set the pace after Lloyds posted first quarter profits of nearly £1.5bn – much better than £497m seen a year earlier and the £1.1bn forecast by City analysts. Shares closed up 0.83p at 54.33p, a 1.6 per cent gain.

That gave a boost to fellow part-nationalised player Royal Bank of Scotland, and its shares surged 12.3p to 306.6p, a 4.2 per cent increase, ahead of its own figures on Friday.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was in mildly positive territory.

But while the Dax in Frankfurt ended up, the Cac 40 in Paris closed down.

The pound gained on the greenback, but was down on the euro.

BP also fared well, up 9.65p to 466.4p, after comfortably beating City expectations with quarterly profits of $4.2bn (£2.7bn).

The haul for the first three months of the year was nine per cent higher than the previous quarter, but down nine per cent on the same period a year earlier.

Meanwhile, Whitbread’s shares fell despite an 11 per cent rise in underlying profits to £356.5mn for the year to February 28.

The leisure company also pledged to step up its growth over the next five years in a move that will create 12,000 jobs at divisions including Premier Inn and Costa. But profittaking from investors sent its shares down 56p or 2555p, a 2.2 per cent fall.

Fashion chain ASOS also laid out ambitious targets after it posted 11 per cent growth in profits to £25.7m.

Shares responded with a rise of 124p to 3200p.

Carphone Warehouse was another decent performer after it agreed a cutprice deal to buy back the firm’s 50 per cent stake in a joint venture with USbased consumer goods firm Best Buy. It will pay £471m in cash and shares, marking the end of a five-year tie-up that saw Best Buy pay £1.1bn for its stake.

Shares were 15 per cent higher at 235p, a 31.3p gain.