Traders pause to pocket rally profits

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A BOUT of profit taking sent the FTSE 100 Index back below the 6,500 barrier yesterday, 
while Wall Street’s flagship Dow Jones finished at a new record closing high last nigh.

London’s top tier closed 29.1 points or 0.5 per cent lower at 6,481.5, narrowing earlier falls of more than 70 points as a stronger-than-expected rise in US retail sales last month buoyed sentiment.

Matt Basi, head of UK sales trading at CMC Markets, said: “Concerns over the widening disparity in economic data emanating from different eurozone constituents sparked selling in early trade as indices retreated from their highs.”

The market’s decline also reflected a number of leading stocks going ex-dividend. Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered was among those trading without rights to its latest payout, and was almost 4 per cent lower at 1,721p.

Royal Bank of Scotland shares were 6.2p lower at 300.1p after it completed the sale of more than £500 million of shares in Direct Line, reducing its stake in line with EU state-aid rules to below 50 per cent. The car insurer joined the stock market at 175p a share in October and rose as high as 225p in January. It was 5.2p lower at 205p.

Security firm G4S was another faller as the impact of its bungled Olympics contract drove it to a 32 per cent decline in profits and sent shares down 7.6p to 299.9p.

Sainsbury’s was another riser, up 2.5 per cent at 358p ahead of results by rival Morrisons today. Morrisons is expected to report a decline in profits after losing market share, but its shares bounced back from an early drop to close 1.6p higher at 271.6p.

NEW YORK: US stocks edged up last night, with the Dow rising for the ninth straight session to another record and the S&P 500 within striking distance of its all-time closing high, buoyed by surprisingly strong US retail sales.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 5.22 points, or 0.04 per cent, to end at 14,455.28, a record closing high, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 2.04 points, or 0.13 per cent, to finish at 1,554.52. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 2.80 points, or 0.09 per cent, to close at 3,245.12.