FTSE down slightly

Barclays led the FTSE 100 Index lower today after one of its biggest investors sold a major stake in the banking giant.

Barclays led the FTSE 100 Index lower today after one of its biggest investors sold a major stake in the banking giant.

The bank was as much as 16% down at one stage after Abu Dhabi royal family-backed International Petroleum Investment Corp (IPIC) sold the equivalent of 1.3 billion shares.

The news knocked other bank shares and combined with profit-taking to leave the Footsie 29.2 points down at 4477, although a positive opening on Wall Street helped blue-chips retrieve even greater losses seen earlier.

Traders across the Atlantic took some cheer after US figures on home sales beat market expectations in April.

In London, Barclays shares fell 42.75p to 273.5p – a fall of more than 13% - as shareholders took their cue to sell up from IPIC.

Lloyds Banking Group followed it down with a 3p decline to 69.5p. The part-nationalised lender however said its board had support from the Government - which owns a 43% stake – at Friday’s annual meeting.

Elsewhere in the sector, RBS was 2.1p lighter at 38.1p, while HSBC was 17p down at 535p.

While financial shares dominated the fallers board, media and marketing giant WPP also had a poor session after it said revenues were below budget for the first four months of 2009. The firm, which cut 4,300 jobs over the period, was 25.75p down at 453.5p.

However, many retailers were in the black after a better-than-expected result from B&Q owner Kingfisher.

The DIY group leapt to the top of the risers board with gains of almost 4% after retail profits for its UK arm rose to £58m (€67.22m) in the 13 weeks to May 2 - up from £29m (€33.6m) in the same period last year.

The firm is more cautious for the rest of the year, but shares added 6.9p to 190.7p nonetheless.

Argos and Homebase parent Home Retail Group was boosted 7p to 249p by Kingfisher’s encouraging news from the battered DIY sector. Supermarket Sainsbury’s also saw gains – up 5.25p at 314.25p, while Next cheered 10p to 1515p.

Miners added modestly to the strong advances of recent days but investors mainly paused for breath in the sector as the dollar made a slight rally. Lonmin and Xstrata were the sector’s best performers, up 45p to 1568p and 22p up to 778p respectively.

The biggest Footsie risers were Kingfisher up 6.9p at 190.7p, Lonmin up 45p at 1568p, Xstrata up 22p to 778p and Home Retail up 7p to 22p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Barclays down 42.75p at 273.5p, WPP down 25.75p at 453.5p, RBS off 2.1p at 38.1p and Hammerson down 15.25p at 290.75p.

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