StockMarketWire.com - London stocks began firmly on the back foot thanks to falls among the broader retail sector, financials and pharmas ahead of Bank of England's interest rate and QE calls -- both seen unchanged -- at noon, along with its inflation report. Wall St and Asia fell overnight.

Ex-dividend Centrica (CNA) guided the blue-chip pack south with a 3.79% drop to 202.5p, but other utilities fell much less and some even eked out minor gains. Sainsbury (SBRY), off 3.67% to 253.35p, led supermarkets south. Tesco (TSCO) lost 0.95% to 157.83p.

Burberry (BRBY), lower 1.63% to 1150p, guided high-street retail. Next shed 1.55% to 5252.5p. Pharmas traced ex-div Glaxosmithkline (GSK), down 2.05% 1444.75p. AstraZeneca (AZN), down 1.11% to 3888.75p, said the US FDA has granted orphan drug designation for its investigational MEK 1/2 inhibitor, selumetinib (AZD6244, ARRY-142886).

Soon after the open, FTSE 100 was down 64.62 points, or 1.05%, to 6097.87, its lowest since April 5's close. FTSE 250 fell 84.64 points, or 0.51%, to 16,636.1, a nadir since March 15's close. At 8.39am, WTI crude was at USD46.19/bbl and Brent was at USD47.54/bbl, both up as Canadian oil output gradually resumed. Gold was at USD1272/oz. European indices were down.

Admiral (ADM), dropping 2.81% to 1869p, guided insurers and financials, with Prudential (PRU) ebbing 2.1% to 1280p. Banks followed Standard Chartered (STAN), off 1.69% to 488.88p, and Lloyds (LLOY), lower 1.66% to 64.6p. Investment specialists trailed St James's Place (STJ), down 1.27% to 856p.

Inflation- and interest rate-sensitive commercial property queued lower after Intu (INTU), retreating 1.64% to 287.3p, and British Land (BLND), surrendering 1.18% to 714p. Overall, fallers outnumbers risers 90 to 10, with 35 issues down by 1% or more. House builders, beverages, leisure, telecos, airlines and consumer goods all faltered, among others.

Mondi (MNDI) led the small band of blue-chip risers as it gained 3.11% to 1391p on stating its outlook remained positive and that it was confident of delivering a performance in line with its expectations. It noted some price weakness in certain packaging paper grades. Meantime, ITV (ITV) fell 0.39% to 214.45p on saying it expected good group profit growth in H1.

BIGGER MOVERS

Westminster (WSG), down 14.29% to 8.25p, has noted ongoing delays in the start of its West African ferry project, and in other larger projects, and said it will need to put additional financing in the near term. It is mulling a capital reconstruction.

Eurasia (EUA), down 13.33% to 0.65p, has raised GBP0.5m in a placing of 90.9m shares at 0.55p each. Proceeds would go to the Sanderson Capital Partners loan, working capital and completing the work programme at Monchetundra and the test work on the Semenovsky Tailings Project.

SuperGroup (SGP), up 13.02% to 1424p, said its FY revenues have risen 21.1% to GBP589.5m, with total retail sales up 24.5% to GBP416.1m and like-for-like sales growth at 11.3%, from 4.8%. Profit for the 52-week period is expected to be GBP72.5m-GBP74.0m.

ECONOMIC NEWS

The market expects Bank of England's nine-member Monetary Policy Committee to unanimously hold its benchmark interest rate at 0.5% and QE programme at GBP375bn at midday. But, traders are also looking US jobs data this afternoon, and several speeches by US Federal Open Market Committee members.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

CLS (CLI), up 10.5% to 1740.5p has begun a share buy-back programme to enhance its net asset value per share. CLS does not believe the current share price, at a significant discount to last-reported NAV/share, reflects the value of its portfolio and development pipeline.

Akers Biosciences (AKR), up 8% to 135p, said its pretax loss was USD1.5m, from a loss of USD1.3m, the rise mostly due to non-recurring costs and costs associated with the re-organisation of the sales and marketing staff and programmes.

Alecto Minerals (ALO), up 4.76% to 0.11p, subsidiary Newmines Holdings has entered into an option and joint venture agreement with Cora Gold Ltd for the exploration and development of the group's 250 sq km Karan gold project in southern Mali. Savannah Resources (SAV), up 5.3% to 3.48p, has begun the next round of drilling over its Block 4 and 5 properties in the Sultanate of Oman, which are prospective for copper and gold.

Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), down 1% to 714.75p, said CEO Martin Morgan will retire from May 31. He would leave DMGT from June 30 but would undertake an advisory role for a 12-month period from January 2017.

TalkTalk Telecom (TALK), down 1.27% to 267.65p, said its FY pretax profit has more than halved to GBP14m, from GBP32m. This included GBP83m of exceptional items, from GBP46m a year earlier. FY dividend was up 15% to 15.87p a share.

Tullett Prebon (TLPR), down 0.79% to 326.1p, said trading conditions have remained mixed, although the pick-up in activity levels in certain products and markets observed at end-2015 has continued. Revenue in the four months to April 2016 was GBP291m, from GBP285m.

Other stocks in the news included Galliford Try (GFRD), Vesuvius (VSVS), FirstGroup (FGP), WH Ireland (WHI), IP (IPO), Wilmington (WIL), Global Invacom (GINV), Stagecoach (SGC), Circle Property (CRC), Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK), Arricano Real Estate (ARO), Deltex Medical (DEMG) and Hansard Global (HSD).

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