The FTSE 100 Index fell by as much as 65 points at one stage but later recovered some lost ground to finish 15.61 points lower at 6,659.42, following six days on the rise.
William Nicholls, a junior dealer at London Capital Group, said: “These are certainly troubling times for the equity markets following what seemed like a fresh start a couple of weeks ago. News in the US continues to drive sentiment and this time it’s the turn of the retail sales to disappoint.”
Rolls shares dived 14 per cent, down 165p at 1,045p after it warned that profits and revenues will fail to grow this year as a result of defence spending cuts. And Tate was 16 per cent lower after saying that tough trading conditions in established markets meant profits would be flat in the current year. Shares slumped 126.5p to 660p as it also highlighted the prospect of weaker sucralose prices.
Shares in Lloyds Banking Group lost some of their recent froth despite its announcement of a return to the black in 2013. Sentiment towards the part-nationalised bank has been impacted by the continued rising bill for payment protection insurance mis-selling and the City’s wait for a restoration in dividend payments, with the stock down 2.2p to 81.3p.
But British Airways and Iberia owner International Airlines Group rose 12.4p to 442p after unveiling an agreement between the Spanish airline and its pilots’ union over productivity changes.
And Imperial Tobacco finished as the top blue-chip riser after it said net revenues rose 1 per cent in the last quarter. It was 126p higher at 2,351p.