Slowdown for FTSE

Supermarket Sainsbury’s was a prominent casualty today as the FTSE 100 Index failed to maintain the momentum after two winning sessions.

Supermarket Sainsbury’s was a prominent casualty today as the FTSE 100 Index failed to maintain the momentum after two winning sessions.

The firm’s like-for-like sales growth of 5.4% in the second quarter underwhelmed the market, sending shares 10.6p lower to 312.3p – a fall of more than 3%.

The wider Footsie meanwhile shed 29.1 points to 5108.9 by the close as traders took some profits after the blue-chip index’s 114-point surge on Tuesday. Wall Street’s Dow Jones Industrial Average was also on the back foot in early trading.

In London, the rest of the supermarket sector was also under pressure following the figures from Sainsbury’s, with Morrisons down 2.2p at 272.9p and Tesco off 8.8p at 381.9p, despite delivering a solid half-year trading update yesterday.

Elsewhere a downbeat note from Royal Bank of Scotland on the prospect of lower profits for European oil and gas firms this year and next also depressed many stocks in the sector.

Heavyweight BP was 9.6p lighter at 540.6p, Tullow Oil shed 39p to 1170p and Cairn Energy was off 60p to 2768p. Royal Dutch Shell was 27p down at 1723p.

Meanwhile blue chip insurer Admiral – the top-flight’s biggest faller – and media giant WPP both turned ex-dividend, meaning investors are not entitled to the latest payout. Shares in the duo lost 38p to 1117p and 4p to 542.5p respectively.

The risers board was led by insurer Aviva after investors welcomed its plans for a US listing, helping shares move almost 4% higher or 17.1p to 467.5p.

It was closely followed by InterContinental Hotels after Citi raised its rating on the Holiday Inn chain to buy and said the stock looked cheap compared with US peers. Shares were up 26.5p to 825.5p.

B&Q owner Kingfisher also benefited from a broker upgrade as shares lifted 4p to 220p, a gain of nearly 3% despite being another ex-divi stock. Burberry cheered 3.5p to 504.5p on Nomura’s comments about steadier trends in the luxury goods sector.

One of the biggest gains in the FTSE 250 Index came from recruitment firm Michael Page International after it signalled further stabilisation in its markets, including in the UK after a 3% drop in quarter-on-quarter profits.

Shares were 4% or 13.7p higher at 343.9p.

Thorntons shares were also stronger, up nearly 3% or 3p to 121p, after the chocolate retailer achieved first quarter sales growth of 2.3% and said it was well placed for the Christmas trading period.

Elsewhere gaming website Sportingbet added 5p to 73p or 7% after a 28% hike in underlying profits despite weaker UK revenues. Investors were cheered by the decent results and a return to dividend payments.

The biggest Footsie risers were Aviva up 17.1p at 467.5p, InterContinental Hotels ahead 26.5p at 825.5p, Segro up 8.4p at 369.5p and Old Mutual ahead 2p at 102.5p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Admiral down 38p at 1117p, Sainsbury’s off 10.6p at 312.3p, Tullow Oil down 39p at 1170p and Lonmin off 44p at 1566p.

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