Marks & Spencer leads FTSE drop

Food to fashion retailer Marks & Spencer led the blue chip fallers on the London market today as the group's cautious outlook took the shine off strong profits.

Food to fashion retailer Marks & Spencer led the blue chip fallers on the London market today as the group's cautious outlook took the shine off strong profits.

Investors gave the company the thumbs down, with shares falling 5% or 35p to 703.5p, despite results cementing M&S' recovery.

The group dragged down fellow retailers, leaving the FTSE 100 Index down 30.2 points at 6606.6 at the close.

Argos owner Home Retail Group closed down 8.75p at 479.5p and Next was also off, down 27p at 2300p.

Also in the spotlight was pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline as concerns over the firm hit the shares which had already suffered a 5% fall in the previous session.

A US report linking the company's diabetes treatment, Avandia, to increased risks of heart disease, saw the firm extend its losses with a fall of 19p, to 1371p, although GSK managed to regain its footing after diving 3% earlier in the day.

Elsewhere, UK flag carrier British Airways nursed stock market losses of 3%, or 13.5p, to 466.5p, as investors reacted to the group's confirmation that it is teaming up with private equity investors to consider a bid for Spanish rival Iberia.

But the banking sector made gains with Standard Chartered high on the risers' board, ahead 42p to 1644p on speculation over a potential takeover.

Alliance & Leicester was also on the front foot, up 36p, or 3%, to 1183p on the back of a broker upgrade.

Meanwhile, Yellow Pages owner Yell Group was up 16p to 505p as the firm remained confident of growth despite higher US competition.

Pubs chain Mitchells & Butlers secured its place among the risers as shares cheered 20.5p to 898p - despite a fall in profits - amid anticipation over a 50/50 joint venture for its property estate with Iranian tycoon and major shareholder Robert Tchenguiz.

Other strong gainers included heating and plumbing giant Wolseley, helped up 28p to 1334p thanks to an upgrade from ABN Amro, which said the firm was well placed to gain from a recovery in the US housing market.

In the second tier, support services firm MITIE led the way with a 6% rise, up 14.25p at 271.25p, as brokers upgraded the stock. Durex maker SSL International progressed 9.5p to 443p, 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 half year and full year UK revenues. The shares were off 16.25p at 164.25p.

Publishing group Emap was also on the back foot, down 11p at 862p as profits fell in the face of a difficult market for its consumer titles.

The biggest Footsie risers were BT Group, up 10.5p at 317.75p, Yell Group ahead 16p at 505p, Alliance & Leicester up 36p at 1183p and Standard Chartered up 42p at 1644p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Marks & Spencer, down 35p at 703.5p, Experian Group off 18p at 585.5p, British Airways down 13.5p at 466.5p and Home Retail Group down 8.75p at 479.5p.

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