Drugs companies and miners were weighing on the London market today as traders started the week on a negative note.
Shire Pharmaceuticals was among the heaviest fallers as investors pulled away from the sector, contributing to the FTSE 100 Index closing 3.5 points lower at 4919.
The performance was a far cry from little more than a month ago when a spate of takeover moves helped the Footsie to a high for the year of 5077.
A fresh bout of economic worries sparked by weak jobs data from Japan affected the mood amid falls by Asian markets. However, sentiment across the Atlantic was better, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average around 20 points higher at London’s close.
In London, drugs firms feeling the pressure included AstraZeneca, off more than 1% or 27p to 2105p after investors reacted negatively to flat prescription figures for its Crestor treatment.
Rival GlaxoSmithKline slipped 8p to 1220p but the sector’s biggest loser was Shire, which lost 2% of its value, down 13.5p to 565p.
Miners were also among those most under pressure amid talk of a fall in the price of copper and other metals, one trader said. Rio Tinto was the fifth heaviest Footsie loser, down 32p to 1679p, while BHP Billiton fell 8p to 701p.
One bright spot for the top flight came from Rentokil Initial after shares in the office services provider rose 5.25p to 164.25p, a gain sparked by talk of further consolidation following a takeover bid for one of its rivals in Denmark.
There was also a gain of 9p to 549.5p for Tate & Lyle after a strong performance by Splenda sucralose – used in cola products – helped keep trading in line with market expectations.
Outside the top flight, the London Stock Exchange slumped 5% after the competition watchdog announced a probe into takeover approaches for the group.
The highest Footsie risers today were Rentokil Initial up 5.25p to 164.25p, HBOS rising 19p to 834.5p, Centrica up 4.75p to 230p and Scottish & Newcastle up 9p to 479p.
The heaviest fallers were Schroders NV down 16.5p to 660.5p, Shire Pharmaceuticals off 13.5p to 565p, Next down 37p to 1595p and Schroders off 14p to 715p.