London Report: FTSE in negative territory for 2014 as retail stocks fall

THE top share index fell yesterday, slipping back into negative territory for the year, after concerns about a smoking ban in China knocked back tobacco companies and following a cautious outlook from Sainsbury.

The FTSE 100 closed down 33.67 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 6,716.16. It remains pinned in a 70-point trading range this year, two per cent off 2013’s high.

“It’s natural to pause here (after a strong December rally), but going forward it’s still looking good,” Mike McCudden, head of derivatives at Interactive Investor, said of the FTSE.

Imperial Tobacco fell 2.9 per cent and British American Tobacco one per cent, after reports that China’s health officials wanted to ban smoking in public places by the end of this year. Consumer staples, a broad sector including tobacco stocks and food retailers, took 13 points off the index in total, with J Sainsbury also weighing on the market. The grocer fell 2.5 per cent after its chief financial officer lowered the company’s growth forecast.