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Energy and bank stocks push FTSE 100 back below 5,000

THE FTSE 100 drifted lower yesterday, unable to stay above the 5,000 level as energy and bank stocks weighed heavily.<br /><br />It closed down by 16.62 points, or 0.3 per cent to 4,987.68, having closed above 5,000 for the first time since late September 2008 on Wednesday.<br /><br />&ldquo;We&rsquo;re taking a bit of a pause from what has been a pretty steady, momentum driven, corporate news driven market over the past short while, so I don&rsquo;t think we&rsquo;re looking at anything at this stage that&rsquo;s terribly serious,&rdquo; said Mike Lenhoff, chief strategist at Brewin Dolphin.<br /><br />Energy stocks took the most points off the index, retracing sharp gains made the previous session. Heavyweights <strong>BP</strong> and <strong>Royal Dutch Shell</strong> were off 1.2 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively.<br /><br />With banks, it was a similar story, with the sector under pressure after Wednesday&rsquo;s strong rally. <strong>HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland</strong> and <strong>Lloyds Banking Group</strong> shed 1 to 1.9 per cent.<br /><br />Food and general retailers were also out of favour, with traders citing profit-taking after the sectors&rsquo; recent gains. The FTSE 350 general retailers index has risen more than 62 per cent so far this year, compared with a 15.6 per cent rise for the FTSE 350 index.<br /><br /><strong>Home Retail</strong> was the heaviest faller, off 6.7 per cent, after the household goods retailer reported better-than-expected second-quarter sales at both its Argos and Homebase businesses. <strong>Next</strong>, down 4.1 per cent, and <strong>Kingfisher</strong>, off 4 per cent, were the second and third biggest large-cap fallers.<br /><br /><strong>Wm Morrison</strong> eased 0.3 per cent as the food retailer said it sees slower market growth in the second half with first-half profits up 22 per cent.<br /><br /><strong>J Sainsbury fell</strong> 1.3 per cent and <strong>Tesco</strong> dropped 0.8 per cent.<br /><br /><strong>Thomas Cook</strong> topped the FTSE 100 leaderboard, up 4.6 per cent, as creditor banks of insolvent German retailer Arcandor completed the placing of a 43.9 per cent stake in the travel firm.<br /><br />The consortium of banks, which included <strong>BayernLB, Royal Bank of Scotland</strong> and <strong>Commerzbank</strong>, placed 376.63m ordinary shares in Thomas Cook at a price of 240p each, a small discount to Wednesday&rsquo;s closing price of 245p.<br /><br />Fellow tour operator <strong>TUI Travel</strong> rose 4.2 per cent, benefiting from the strong demand for Thomas Cook stock.<br /><br />The Bank of England left interest rates at a record low of 0.5 per cent for the sixth month running and said it would keep its &pound;175bn asset buying programme in place.