London Report: Weak earnings reports fuel drop in FTSE shares

BRITAIN’S top share index edged lower yesterday as gloomy earnings reports fuelled profit-taking on some basic material and energy stocks and investors cut positions in expectation of less US monetary stimulus.

Shares in miners BHP Billiton and Glencore Xstrata fell 1.7 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively as the former announced a lower-than-expected profit and the latter wrote down the value of its mining assets due to sliding metal prices.

Also weighing on the material sector, which encompasses companies that focus on metals and basic resources, was building supplies company CRH, down 2.2 per cent after it cut its full-year earnings outlook.

John Wood Group, down eight per cent, was the top blue-chip faller as the energy services company warned that weakening business and project delays would impact earnings growth for the rest of this year and into 2014. Fresnillo was the top FTSE 100 riser, up 27p, or 2.3 per cent.

Material and energy stocks knocked a combined 8.3 points off the FTSE 100, which ended 12.3 points lower, or 0.2 per cent, at 6,453.46 points