FTSE in retreat

The London market was in retreat today amid negative sentiment over major blue-chips including Marks & Spencer and GlaxoSmithKline.

The London market was in retreat today amid negative sentiment over major blue-chips including Marks & Spencer and GlaxoSmithKline.

The FTSE 100 Index was down 13.2 points at 6623.1 by mid-morning, as a weak finish on Wall Street overnight also hindered progress.

Investors gave the thumbs-down to M&S’s full-year results despite profits of £965.2 million. The retailer led the Footsie fallers as the stock dipped more than 3%, or 25p, to 713.5p – after a cautious outlook from the firm and lower than expected margins.

Continuing concerns over pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline also weighed on the stock after its shares dipped 5% in the previous session.

A US report linking the company’s diabetes treatment, Avandia, to increased risks of heart disease, saw the firm extend losses seen last night with a fall of more than 3%, or 46p, to 1344p.

Alliance & Leicester led the Footsie risers, up 42p to 1189p on the back of a broker upgrade, while fellow bank Standard Chartered moved ahead 36p to 1638p on reports that it had called off a merger in India.

Meanwhile, Yellow Pages owner Yell Group was up 15.5p to 504.5p as the firm remained confident of growth despite higher US competition, while pubs chain Mitchells & Butlers cheered 9p to 886.5p despite a fall in profits amid anticipation over a 50/50 joint venture for its property estate with Iranian tycoon Robert Tchenguiz.

Other strong gainers included heating and plumbing giant Wolseley, helped up 21p to 1327p thanks to an upgrade from ABN Amro.

In the second tier, Durex maker SSL International led the way with a near 4% rise, up 16.5p to 450p, as the firm posted better than expected profits.

But IT services firm LogicaCMG suffered a 9% fall as the company warned that cost overruns and delays on contracts would hit UK revenues. The shares were off 16.5p at 164p.

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