THURSDAY MARKET CLOSE: FTSE lower as Coca-Cola loses its fizz

The FTSE 100 retreated further as disappointing results and cautious management guidance eventually proved too much for the bulls

Drinks bottler Coca-Cola HBC joined the ranks of London-listed firms complaining about exchange rate issues, as the index closed 38.79 points lower at 6,597.37.

Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said Coca-Cola’s numbers failed to please shareholders who have already lost 25 per cent this year.

“While second-quarter profits may have risen and margins expanded nicely on reduced costs, management’s comments about a challenging outlook based on geopolitics, still squeezed consumers, foreign exchange headwinds and expectations that trading conditions are unlikely to improve during 2014 have given the shares reason to retrace.”

The shares were down more than 5 per cent, off 73p at 1,302p, as investors digested tit-for-tat sanctions between Russia and the West over Ukraine, while European Central Bank president Mario Draghi warned the crisis could weigh on the fragile eurozone recovery.

The insurance sector was in focus as Aviva and RSA updated the City on their turnaround progress in half-year results.

Aviva shares were nearly 3 per cent, or 12.8p, higher at 502.5p after operating profits hit £1.05 billion. But RSA reported half-year profits of £69 million against £250m a year ago as new boss Stephen Hester admitted the cost of his “clean-up” of the group was proving higher than initially expected. Shares fell 3 per cent, or 13.4p, to 430.5p.

Elsewhere, budget airline EasyJet was on the back foot after a downgrade from analysts at Barclays, citing limited earnings momentum through the winter and concerns over its capacity growth. The stock slipped 3 per cent, or 44p, to 1,239p.