Blue-chip stocks failed to bounce back from a 100-point fall in the previous session despite positive reaction to Pearson’s sale of the FT and a clutch of well-received corporate updates.
The benchmark FTSE-100 Index closed down 12.33 points at 6,655.01 while across the Channel Germany’s Dax and France’s Cac 40 were little changed.
On currency markets, the pound had a setback after official figures showed a surprise 0.2 per cent dip in UK retail sales last month, though experts said the overall performance in the second quarter should help support a pick-up in the wider economy.
Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “This morning’s opening rally proved itself to be unsustainable and other than that the FTSE-100 has spent the majority of the day once again trading in a relatively tight range before finishing lower.
“It’s not as if traders haven’t had much to work on, with that disappointing set of retail sales numbers this morning surely hanging another question mark over the timing of the first Bank of England rate hike – despite the inflated rhetoric that we’re now seeing.”
Kingfisher was one of the biggest risers, ahead 7.4p to 374.4p, after revealing a sales recovery in its B&Q chain in the UK and Ireland, with a hot weather boost helping drive same-store sales up 3.4 per cent in its second quarter.
Better-than-expected interim results from consumer goods giant Unilever helped the group’s shares rise 46p to 2,905p.
Big fallers included Scots utility group SSE, which revealed it lost 90,000 customer accounts in its first quarter, though the slide in the share price also coincided with them going ex-dividend – meaning new buyers of the shares are not entitled to the divi. The stock dropped 80p to 1,507p.