Sage weighs on FTSE

THE leading share index inched down in early trading this morning, as Sage led the fallers on the back of a downgrade from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The education group lost more than four per cent, as BAML cut its rating on the stock to “underperform” from “neutral”, saying its value had peaked.
Banking shares also weighed on the index in early deals, with RBS shedding 1.7 per cent. Barclays followed suit, losing 1.5 per cent. HSBC was down 0.6 per cent and Lloyds Banking Group lost 1.1 per cent.
Steelmaker Evraz lost 1.7 per cent while cruise operator Carnival was down 1.5 per cent.
On the wider index, Finnish Talvivaara fell 60 per cent. Last week its shareholders agreed a €261m share sale to keep the firm’s mine running.
Explorer Ophir Energy sank almost 13 per cent. Last week it unveiled a £550m rights issue to help fund new African drilling projects.
At the other end of the spectrum, consumer group Reckitt Benckiser was up 1.4 per cent, while brewer SAB Miller rose 1.3 per cent.
Holiday firm Tui Travel was up 1.1 per cent, while on the wider index Thomas Cook rose 11.2 per cent. Last week the mid-cap holiday company said it would cut 2,500 jobs in a restructuring of its business.
Bookmakers Ladbrokes rose 7.5 per cent as it finalised an agreement with Playtech to boost its online operations.
In Asia, the Nikkei closed up 0.53 per cent, while in the US the Dow Jonesclosed up 0.47 per cent.