LONDON (SHARECAST) - The top share index was above the 6,000 point mark at the close of play, but only just after worries over the Eurozone crisis – and global growth – sent stocks lower.
The People´s Bank of China's decision to raise its key policy rate by 25 basis points with effect from tomorrow sent markets into retreat. Nerves were already on edge after the ratings agency, Moody's Investors Services, cut Portugal's sovereign debt rating Tuesday night by four levels to Ba2 from Baa1, with a negative outlook. The Ba2 rating is regarded as "junk bond" status.
Banks were most prominent among the laggards in the FTSE 100. RBS and Barclays closed nearly 4% lower.
In company news, acquisitive advertising conglomerate WPP was another faller in the large-cap index. It has been waving its debit card about again, this time acquiring a majority stake in Indian advertising agency, Mindset Advertising.
Sportswear retailer Sports Direct’s move into the fashion world with the acquisition of 80% shareholdings in the Scottish fashion chains USC and Cruise Clothing for £7m has pleased the market.
Cash and carry group Booker was flying off the shelves after saying it is on course to meet expectations for the year ending 30 March after seeing a sharp rise in sales in the first quarter. Total sales were up by 9.5% from the same period the previous year (7.4% on a like-for-like basis), and by 9.1% excluding tobacco. Like-for-like tobacco sales were up by 5.7%.
Milk supplier Robert Wiseman was in demand after saying trading is in line with expectations. Panmure Gordon said today it thinks having to pay suppliers a higher milk price in the autumn presents it with an opportunity to "recover costs from retailers." The broker ups its target price on stock to 320p from 260p.
British Airways owner IAG fell after analysts at AlphaValue downgraded IAG from overweight to underweight, following the release of the airline's June passenger statistics.
Turning to smaller companies, shares in Coal of Africa roared higher after the miner said it had been granted approval to build its project at Vele in South Africa. Construction is expected to be completed in six to nine months and production is expected to reach 1m tonnes a year.
Advertising and marketing group Cello dropped after saying it expects profits for the full year to fall slightly short of expectations after losing a retail research contract earlier this month and seeing one of its retail clients entering administration. The company expects to incur a full year exceptional charge of about £500,000.
But another marketing-type firm, ILA, which supplies women’s personal alarms and promotional products, is having a good day. It expects full-year sales to be higher than previously anticipated after successfully penetrating new markets.
Diagnostics company Axis-Shield soared after it rejected an approach by US rival Alere, causing its shares to leap in value. Axis-Shield said the £230m bid by Alere "fundamentally undervalued" the company and its future prospects.
The share price of tiddler Invu, a document management software provider, soared after finance director Ian Smith splashed out on 2.2m shares at 0.45p a time.