The FTSE 100 continued its slide as a stronger pound and disappointing Royal Mail earnings dragged on the index.
London’s top tier fell 0.5 per cent or 39.17 points to close at 7,208.44, hit in part by a 0.5 per cent rise in sterling versus the dollar to $1.232.
The pound rose more than 0.4 per cent to €1.158 against the euro, which was under pressure after the European Central Bank kept interest rates on hold and played down signs of inflation across the eurozone. Multinational stocks on the blue-chip index tend to benefit when international currencies are stronger.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said the FTSE was not helped by the sharp drop in Royal Mail shares after “disappointing” results. The firm’s shares were down 26.9p to 422.5p, after it revealed a 6 per cent drop in letter mailing in the nine months to 25 December, while business worries over Brexit hit marketing post.
In UK stocks, Aviva shares fell 2.4p to 476.3p after it announced that it was merging its UK insurance businesses as part of a shake-up that has sparked the departure of its European boss.
Barratt Development shares dropped 11p to 505.5p as the firm unexpectedly announced that chief financial officer Neil Cooper would step down “by mutual agreement” with immediate affect, after just over a year in the job.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 included Pearson up 15.5p to 588.5p, British American Tobacco up 100p to 4,734p and London Stock Exchange Group up 57p to 3,010p. The biggest fallers included British Land Company down 22.5p to 595.5p, Fresnillo down 49p to 1,398p, and Anglo American down 41p to 1,302p.