WEDNESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Unilever among fallers

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Consumer food giant Unilever was among many stocks on the back foot after a broker downgrade from JP Morgan coincided with the shares going ex-dividend.

The group was one of the biggest blue chip fallers, down 4 per cent at 2,572p on a day when the wider market came under pressure from a number of sources and a raft of heavyweights lost their latest dividend rights.

The miners were another drag after Randgold Resources revealed the toll of the yellow metal losing its shine in recent months.

Brenda Kelly, senior market strategist at IG, said: “Randgold’s earnings were never expected to beat market expectations but the 62 per cent fall in second-quarter profit as a result of slumping gold prices sent shares spiralling down by 6 per cent in early trade.”

The stock later recovered some of its losses as investors focused on the fact that it had not made any write-downs, to close 62p lower at 4,366p.

The FTSE 100 Index ended the day 93 points down at 6,511.21, a fall of 1.4 per cent and its fourth day of losses on the trot. Disappointment in the forward guidance given by the Bank of England contributed to the decline amid low trading volumes.

Old Mutual was among those bucking the trend, up almost 3 per cent at 198.1p after reporting an increase in first half profits. And Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered enjoyed a second day of gains following Tuesday’s half-year numbers, adding 26p to close at 1,593.5p.

On the Alternative Investment Market, Glasgow-based holiday firm Minoan leapt more than 16 per cent to 5.25p despite making no announcement. The bullish move may have been a belated reaction to news last week that the firm’s long held plans for a holiday development on Crete were finally reaching the planning stage.