FTSE drifts into red at market close

British Airways suffered share price misery today in the wake of the high-profile problems hitting the opening of Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

British Airways suffered share price misery today in the wake of the high-profile problems hitting the opening of Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

The prospect of a third day of disruption at the £4.3 billion facility tomorrow - and wider nerves over prospects during the current economic climate – left its shares 7.25p lower at 240p, or 3%.

The wider FTSE 100 Index drifted into the red as the session wore on despite support from mining firms on higher copper prices. With little encouragement from opening US markets, the London market eventually closed 24.6 points down at 5692.9.

British Airways’ woes aside, housebuilder Persimmon topped the Footsie fallers board with a drop of 5% or 40p to 749.5p as recent volatility in housebuilding shares continued after downbeat price data from building society Nationwide.

The latest news – showing prices declined for a fifth month in a row - unsettled Charles Church owner and led to nerves across the sector.

In the FTSE 250 Index, Barratt Developments slipped more than 6% after broker Panmure Gordon added to pain in the sector by issuing a sell note on the stock, which fell 27.25p to 410.75p. Newcastle-based Bellway eased 11p to 874p and Redrow dipped 1.75p to 312.75p – offsetting gains seen yesterday after stake-building in the group.

In the banking sector, Halifax Bank of Scotland and Alliance & Leicester fell 17.5p to 540p 17p to 523.5p respectively as the stocks ended the week on the back foot after recent gains.

Sentiment towards retailers was also weak after the release of poor consumer confidence figures. Marks & Spencer dipped 3% or 12.5p to 396.25p, while Next was off 37p at 1161p.

Among the miners Vedanta Resources set the pace, 67p stronger at 2133p, closely followed by Antofagasta, up 18p to 675.5p.

But Enterprise Inns led the risers after tax and legal advice indicated it should be in a position to covert to tax-efficient REIT status, boosting potential returns to shareholders. With trading also in line with expectations, Enterprise shares rose more than 12%, or 45.75p to 409.75p.

Elsewhere in the pubs sector, Punch Taverns lifted 7% – or 35.5p to 554p – amid relief over its decision not to pursue a potential merger with rival Mitchells & Butlers.

A private equity deal remains an option for the All Bar One owner, meaning M&B shares recovered from a weak start to stand 13p higher at 342.5p.

Clover and Cathedral City maker Dairy Crest slipped almost 10% in the FTSE 250 Index. The drop of 51.25p to 478.75p came after a trading update fuelled concerns about rising commodity costs, even though the firm has sought to carry through price hikes for customers.

The biggest Footsie risers were Enterprise Inns up 45.75p at 409.75p, Vedanta Resources ahead 67p at 2133p, Cable & Wireless up 4.1p at 149.2p and Antofagasta up 18p at 675.5p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Persimmon down 40p at 749.5p, British Land off 31.5p at 902.5p, Alliance & Leicester off 17p at 523.5p and HBOS down 17.5p at 540p.

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