THURSDAY MARKET CLOSE: FTSE losses fizz over Grexit concerns

London Stock Exchange building. Picture: Getty
London Stock Exchange building. Picture: Getty
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London’s top-flight index retreated from record highs as worries grew over Greece’s future in the euro currency bloc.

A batch of largely upbeat corporate results could not prevent the FTSE 100 Index falling 36.33 points to 7,060.45 as International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde rejected suggestions that Greece could obtain a delay on debt payments it needs to make next month.

Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “Neither the desperation from Greece in asking for an extension, nor the hard-line approach from the IMF in denying it, bode well for a resolution.”

Blue-chip stocks on the back foot included Johnnie Walker and Guinness producer Diageo, which dropped 70.5p, or 3.6 per cent, to 1,896.5p after reporting a decline in sales for the third quarter ending 31 March.

Defence contractor BAE Systems was another of the biggest Footsie fallers as its shares declined 16.5p or 3.1 per cent to 516p in the face of a ratings downgrade from UBS.

In contrast, consumer goods group Unilever gained 77p to 3,011p after the maker of Dove soap, Flora spread and Pot Noodle said underlying sales grew by a better-than-expected 2.8 per cent during the first quarter of its financial year.

Outside the top flight, shares in Debenhams jumped almost 7 per cent or 5.3p to 84.9p after it posted forecast-beating profits. The improvement follows changes in the chain’s promotional and online offer, as well as renting out of some of its under-used space to other retailers.

In other retail updates, WH Smith was 17p lower at 1,385p after a continuation of its strategy of focusing on margins rather than sales growth resulted in a 4 per cent rise in half-year profits to £72 million.

Mothercare soared 6 per cent or 12.75p to 224.75p after sales grew strongly in the final 11 weeks of its financial year.