The London market retreated further as a bullish reading from Britain’s service sector was not enough to offset a raft of more downbeat data from abroad.
Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC, said: “It was sour trading in Europe, with mixed services PMIs on the Continent and weak US employment and trade data adding to a general unwillingness of traders to take big positions ahead of the European Central Bank’s rate-setting meeting.”
The FTSE 100 Index was down 17.67 points at 6,818.63 amid the disappointing economic data.
Sliding sales at Tesco put supermarkets under further pressure as chief executive Philip Clarke said he could not remember a worse quarterly performance in his four decades at the retailer. The sales decline was no worse than analysts had predicted but the stock was still 4p lower at 293.5p. Sainsbury’s shares were worse hit, down 6.2p to 327.6p, while Morrisons slipped 0.6p to 193.8p.
Other fallers included brewer SABMiller, which declined 38.5p to 3,255p in the wake of a broker downgrade from Morgan Stanley.
But Smith & Nephew and Sports Direct were both higher on the back of broker comment. Sports Direct was up 3.6 per cent at 799p after being picked by BNP Paribas, while JP Morgan Cazenove told investors that takeover speculation should continue to support Smith & Nephew’s price. The medical equipment firm added 3.3 per cent to 1,064p.
Meanwhile, Vodafone was down after regulator Ofcom announced proposals to further reduce termination rates by April 2017. The shares were 2.45p weaker at 205.1p.
Outside the top flight, plastic packaging group RPC rose nearly 4 per cent to 648p as annual results that showed adjusted profit before tax up 12 per cent.