Firms going ex-dividend hit FTSE 100

The leading share index fell this morning, ending a three-session rally as it was weighed down by a number of blue chips going ex-dividend.

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca led the fallers, shedding more than three per cent as it went ex-dividend. Business software provider Sage and oil giant BP fell 1.63 per cent and 1.44 per cent respectively for the same reason.

On the wider index, FTSE 250 miner African Barrick Gold shed more than eight per cent in early trades, as it said this morning earnings for 2012 tumbled by 39 per cent. The miner is now focused on cutting costs.

Upbeat results from blue chips Tullow Oil and Reckitt Benckiser partially offset the lower FTSE 100.

Tullow topped the leader board in early deals, rising more than 4.5 per cent, as it posted a jump in pre-tax profit and revenues last year. However, it added that it would write off $671m for failed drilling, although this has not deterred the share price this morning.

Consumer giant Reckitt Benckiser, which this morning posted better-than-expected results for the full year, rose almost two per cent.

Oil services group Petrofac rose 3.5 per cent.

Outside of the blue chips, coal miner Bumi was up more than 8.5 per cent. Yesterday it agreed crucial funding for the first stage of the divorce deal which would see its Indonesian arm sold off.

UK banking shares were in negative territory this morning. HSBC sank 0.14 per cent, RBS was down 0.76 per cent, Barclays fell 0.37 per cent and Lloyds Banking Group was down 1.17 per cent.

In Asia, the Nikkei closed down 1.04 per cent while in the US the Dow Jones closed up 0.34 per cent.