FTSE slides as weak drugmakers and banks offset rally by mining and oil firms

Britain’s leading share index ended slightly lower yesterday, rallying late on in tandem with a turnaround on Wall Street after US existing home sales data, with firmer oils offset by weak drugmakers and banks.

By the close, the FTSE 100 was down 4.83 points or 0.1 per cent at 5,547.08, its third consecutive session of losses since hitting its highest close since late April on Monday.

Weak drugmakers were the main drag for the blue chips, with AstraZeneca and Shire down 1.1 and 0.8 per cent, respectively, after Exane BNP Paribas cut ratings for both in a sector review.

The broker upgraded its stance on GlaxoSmithKline but the stock still fell one per cent on concerns that US and European regulators were set to pull its controversial diabetes drug Avandia off the market.

Banks were also big blue chip fallers, with Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays off one per cent and 0.3 percent, respectively, as uncertainty over what steps governments will need to take to sustain the economic recovery weighed.

Integrated oils were the best blue chip performers, with BG Group adding 1.8 per cent and Royal Dutch Shell ahead 0.2 per cent.

Miners saw some support led by gold miner Randgold Resources up 1.1 per cent, while Xstrata and Vedanta Resources both took on 0.9 per cent.

Petrofac was the top blue chip riser, up 2.1 percent, while Amec gained 1.8 per cent.

Fund manager Schroders was also a blue chip riser, up 1.7 per cent helped by rumours of sector consolidation moves.
Despite the recent retreat, the FTSE 100 remains 700 points higher than its 2010 low in early July.