London’s leading shares index struggled to make progress yesterday after weaker-than-expected retail sales in the US overshadowed an upbeat bond auction in debt-laden Italy.
The FTSE 100 Index closed 5 points lower at 5,899.8 after total retail sales in the world’s biggest economy grew 0.4% last month, compared with forecasts of a 0.7% rise.
Miners lost ground after their big gains yesterday, with Rio Tinto off 118p at 3,727.5p and Xstrata down 29p at £11.84.
Banks were also among the biggest fallers, with Royal Bank of Scotland sinking to the bottom of the FTSE 100 with a 1.5p fall to 26.7p, while Lloyds Banking Group moved 1p lower at 34.3p.
Outside the top flight, shares in beleaguered retailer Carpetright jumped 4.5% or 26p to 604p amid market speculation that chairman and chief executive Lord Harris was planning to take the business private.
Cable & Wireless Worldwide topped the second-tier fallers board after surging 46% yesterday on the back of Vodafone’s admission that it is mulling a takeover offer for the corporate telecoms firm. Shares were down 6%, or 1.9p at 26.7p.
Directories firm Yell slid 18% – 1.1p to 4.8p – after it reported a bigger-than-expected 15% slump in revenue for the quarter to December 31.
The biggest Footsie risers were Bunzl up 32.5p at 910.5p, BAE Systems ahead 9.4p at 329.4p, Burberry up 30p at £14.23 and Capita ahead 13.5p at 648p.
The biggest Footsie fallers included Vedanta Resources off 31p at £12.51.
Alan MacPhee, of investment manager and financial planning specialist Brewin Dolphin in Aberdeen, noted that Xcite rose 8.43% to close at 112.38p, adding to Monday’s gain. Wood Group was also on the rise up 2.23% to close at 710.5p, with Premier Oil adding 1.57% to 426.4p.
The day’s fallers included Parkmead down 5.65% to 14.63p.