TUESDAY MARKET CLOSE: ‘Sell’ rating weighs on fund manager

Stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown was the biggest faller in the top flight after broker UBS initiated coverage with a “sell” note.

The shares dropped close to 3 per cent, down 31p at 1,050p, on a day when the wider market struggled for direction.

But Tony Cross, market Aanalyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “The stock has seen precisely this sort of knee-jerk reaction to broker notes before and reversions have usually been posted promptly – will this time be any different?”

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The FTSE 100 was little changed, just 0.4 points lower at 6,632.42. Sports Direct topped the index as retail data showed online sellers continuing to reap the lion’s share of any gains going. The shares climbed 3 per cent to 682.5p.

Prudential was the second biggest riser in the top flight after another strong set of results as strong demand in Asia helped half-year profits rise 10 per cent despite regulatory changes. Shares in the Pru were up 29.5p to 1,368.5p.

In other corporate results, Ladbrokes said it achieved all its planned operational improvements in time for the World Cup, although poor results and restructuring costs weighed on the bottom line. The shares lifted 0.6p to 129.9p.

Struggling outsourcer Serco lifted 1.6p to 330.5p despite its first-half loss, as chief executive Rupert Soames bolstered his management team and said he expected the group’s financial performance to be much better in the second half of the year.

Online takeaway service Just Eat, which joined the stock market in April, led the FTSE 250 Index with a rise of 9 per cent - up 20.5p to 240p - after it reported a sharp jump in half-year profits. But stock remains below its launch price of 260p, when it was valued at £1.5 billion in the largest technology flotation for eight years.