Supermarket group Sainsbury’s was pushed lower after reporting its first fall in profits for a decade amid pressure from cut-price rivals.
Shares in the UK’s third-largest grocer ended the day down 8.7p, or 3.2 per cent, at 266.3p as it said underlying pre-tax profits dropped 14.7 per cent to £681 million in the year to 14 March.
Rival Morrisons, which is due to update the City on recent trading today, added 1.9p to close at 189.3p, while market leader Tesco dipped 0.1p to finish at 226.8p in the last trading session before voting starts for the general election.
Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “The polls continue to paint a picture that’s too close to call, but markets are likely to react badly to any prolonged period of uncertainty.”
The FTSE 100 Index eked out a gain of 6.16 points to close at 6,933.74 as many investors opted to remain on the sidelines on the eve of the election.
Returning to the retail theme, Superdry fashion brand owner SuperGroup jumped 74p, or 7.4 per cent, to 1,071p after reporting a 12.5 per cent increase in full-year revenues to £484.7m.
Baked goods specialist Finsbury Food Group, owner of Lightbody Cakes in Hamilton, said it was in talks to buy Johnstone’s Just Desserts out of administration, saving 150 jobs in East Kilbride, and shares edged up 1p to 80p.
Pubs operator JD Wetherspoon was another riser, closing up 28.5p or 3.9 per cent at 764.5p as it toasted a rise in sales for the 13 weeks to 26 April and said it was on course to open 30 more venues this year and next.
Aside from Sainsbury’s, the biggest fallers in the FTSE 100 Index were Aberdeen Asset Management, down 19.5p or 4.3 per cent to 431.1p, Hikma Pharmaceuticals down 44p to 1,980p and Antofagasta, which finished the trading session down 16p at 782.5p.