FTSE 100 slips on weak British economic data - London Report

UK SHARES fell for a third-consecutive session yesterday, and the pound traded lower against the dollar, as weaker-than-expected economic data weighed on British assets.

The blue chip FTSE 100 fell 0.8 per cent, or 50.65 points, to 6,366.51, bringing its three-day loss total to three per cent. The index fell two per cent on Monday, its biggest fall in three weeks, as sliding oil prices hurt the commodities-rich index.

Ashtead, the equipment rental company that generates most of its revenues in the US, tumbled 6.2 per cent, to £11.09, the heaviest FTSE 100 faller. It was dragged lower by an 11 per cent drop in American peer United Rentals.

Financial plays were hard pressed. Man Group fell 2.96 per cent to 160.50p, with Hargreaves Lansdown off 2.79 per cent to 956.50p.

Banks were led lower by Lloyds, off 2.35 per cent to 72.87p, RBS, down 2.12 per cent at 370p, and a slew of others in the sector.

Supermarkets fell too. Morrisons dropped 1.59 per cent to 173.70p, while Tesco fell 1.54 per cent to 178.80p. M&S slipped 0.53 per cent to 454.50p, but Sainsbury bucked the trend, rising 0.47 per cent to 234.60p.

Commercial property giants Land Securities dropped 0.95 per cent to 1,151p, while Hammerson also fell 0.74 per cent to 600.50p.

Given the focus on falling crude prices lately, oil stocks fared relatively well.

Cairn Energy slipped 0.97 per cent to 173.80p. On the plus side, however, were BG Group, up 0.81 per cent to 848.50p, BP, rising 0.35 per cent to 391.05p and Wood Group gaining 0.35 per cent to 580.50p .

Miners rose too, with gold climbing to a three-week high as investors sought safety from recent sell-offs in equity and commodity markets.

Lonmin added 4.92 per cent to 174.80p, Randgold was up 4.87 per cent to 4,757p, Anglo American rose 2.53 per cent to 1,155p, and Fresnillo climbed 2.86 per cent to 790.50p.

Amphion Innovations soared 244.44 per cent to 3.88p after winning a US court appeal case on patent infringement by third parties.

Meanwhile, LGO Energy’s output for December averaged 1,685 barrels of oil per day. Its shares fell 16.23 per cent to 3.23p.

Nanoco crashed 19.17 per cent to 111.75p as Philips and AOC unveiled new computer monitors using rival technology from QD Vision.

Reckitt Benckiser fell 1.35 per cent to 5,110p.