A NEW line up of leading ladies including Dame Helen Mirren, Darcey Bussell and artist Tracey Emin helped Marks & Spencer make gains.
The retailer’s star-studded promotional cast persuaded investors that it is returning to winning ways in womenswear, and helped the shares gain 6.2p to 459.5p.
But the FTSE 100 Index stayed on its recent declining trend, sliding more than 0.5 per cent or 34.26 points at 6,465.73. Markets remain anxious over looming fears that quantitative easing in the United States will begin to be tapered off from next month, while rumours that China would start its own stimulus programme appeared to have died a death.
Ankit Kapur, sales trader at CMC Markets, said: “It appears that everyone in the city is still either asleep or on holiday with low trading volumes and a blank macro calendar unlikely to stir anyone into action in the short term, as we all wait for Wednesday’s Fed minutes and any clues on the potential scale of the tapering plan that the market now seems convinced will begin in September.”
Mining stocks led the sell-off, with Anglo American down more than 3 per cent at 1,492.5p and silver miner Fresnillo dropping 15p to 1,157p.
Commodities trader Glencore Xstrata also dropped, on expectations that it will write off up to £4.5 billion from the value of assets at Xstrata. Shares sank 6.4p to 302p ahead of its results.
But traders seemed to be preparing for a pleasant surprise from oil services firm Wood Group, which publishes interim results this week. Its shares were up 20p to 903p.
Outside the top flight, engineering firm Kentz was in high demand after rejecting takeover bids from two parties, Amec and Germany’s M+W, on valuation grounds.
The developments fuelled a 24 per cent rise in the FTSE 250 firm’s shares, which were up 115.1p to 591p. Amec was 1p higher at 1,085p
On the Alternative Investment Market shares in Edinburgh-based Frontier IP jumped more than 20 per cent, up 2.25p at 12.75p after it said AXA had built its stake in the group. AXA now has a to 9.3 per cent holding, following an over-subscribed share placing last week that saw Frontier raise £392,000.