- FTSE closes 32.15 points lower at 6,590.69
- Feb UK industrial production trounces forecasts
- Tensions rise in Ukraine
- Big Four see market share slip as discount stores increase sales
techMARK 2,697.56 -1.19%
FTSE 100 6,590.69 -0.49%
FTSE 250 16,014.46 -1.53%
UK stocks once again finished in the red, dragged by insurers and financials, while Sports Direct also weighed particularly heavily.
The FTSE 100 ended the session 32.15 points lower at 6,590.69, easing off earlier declines which saw the index drop below 6,560.
Increased tensions in Ukraine also weighed on sentiment, after the country launched military operation in into its eastern regions and arrested approximately 70 separatists who had seized government buildings in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv this week.
Russia today warned Ukraine that any use of force in the eastern regions could lead to a civil war.
The US has accused Russia of initiating the raids and said there is evidence that some protesters may be paid provocateurs.
Tensions remain high after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine last month.
Elsewhere around the globe, Japan and Australia are set to sign an historic trade deal to reduce the tariffs imposed on a number of products, following seven years of negotiations. The pair are due to sign the pact when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Australia later in the year.
UK industrial production trounces forecasts in February
Back in the UK, industrial production grew by 0.9% in February according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and by another 2.7% year-on-year.
The consensus estimate had been for a rise of 0.3% month-on-month (2.2% year-on-year).
Meanwhile, Britain's biggest banks have so far paid around £600m for mis-selling interest rate hedging products, according to the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
In other UK news, full-time wages are rising at their fastest for seven years but a skills shortage and immigration restrictions could hold back an economic revival, a report out today said.
Starting salaries for people in permanent jobs increased at their sharpest rate since July 2007, according to a survey from accountancy firm KPMG and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).
Big Four see market share slip as discount stores increase sales
The so-called 'Big Four' supermarkets have suffered a further reduction in their market share as the likes of Aldi and Lidl continue to deliver strong growth, data revealed Tuesday.
According to research carried out by Kantar Worldpanel, in the 12 weeks ended March 30th, German discount store Aldi grew its market share to 4.6%, its highest level to-date after it saw growth of 35.3%. Its peer Lidl was close behind with 3.4% of the market.
In other company news out today, sporting goods retailer Sports Direct sunk sharply after it was reported that Founder Mike Ashley is selling £200m-worth of shares, taking his stake from 62% to 58%.
Goldman Sachs said it will place up to 24m shares
acquired from MASH Holdings, Ashley's investment vehicle, with institutional investors. The stock is being placed at 850-870p a share, compared with last night's closing price of 893.5p.
Both Insurance and Financial stocks moved lower, with the former growing cautious ahead of the earnings season and also after the industry called on its regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, to conduct an inquiry into the recent publication of its plans to review part of the industry in a newspaper.
Barclays was lower after reaching a settlement with a UK care operator over claims the bank mis-sold products linked to benchmark interest rates. Sector peer Lloyds Banking Group was also a notable faller.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,290.50p +2.83%
Unilever (ULVR) 2,606.00p +2.72%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,426.50p +2.48%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 819.50p +2.44%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 870.50p +2.23%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,390.00p +1.85%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,757.00p +1.75%
Tesco (TSCO) 287.85p +1.61%
Fresnillo (FRES) 905.00p +1.57%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,577.00p +1.48%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Sports Direct International (SPD) 811.00p -9.23%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 901.00p -5.41%
St James's Place (STJ) 773.00p -5.21%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,645.00p -3.92%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,007.00p -3.82%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 277.00p -3.75%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,315.00p -3.66%
BT Group (BT.A) 361.90p -3.49%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 416.00p -3.28%
Next (NXT) 6,410.00p -3.10%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Evraz (EVR) 78.95p +4.29%
Computacenter (CCC) 649.50p +2.69%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 302.50p +2.58%
Betfair Group (BET) 1,051.00p +2.34%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 348.00p +1.84%
Rotork (ROR) 2,680.00p +1.82%
NMC Health (NMC) 519.00p +1.57%
Polymetal International (POLY) 634.00p +1.52%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 687.50p +1.40%
Templeton Emerging Markets Inv Trust (TEM) 549.00p +1.29%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,512.00p -9.13%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 306.20p -7.21%
Synthomer (SYNT) 271.60p -6.86%
Henderson Group (HGG) 251.40p -6.23%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 396.20p -6.11%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,139.00p -5.79%
Worldwide Healthcare Trust (WWH) 1,229.00p -5.10%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 380.00p -5.00%
SIG (SHI) 201.60p -4.91%
Keller Group (KLR) 1,042.00p -4.84%