StockMarketWire.com - The UK's benchmark FTSE 100 index ended Thursday trading nearly 50 points in the red after disappointing industrial data from China and a fall in retail sales. Sectors weighing heaviest on the index were a mixture of industrials, such as electricals, metals, paper, although soft UK retail data also added to the market malaise.

The FTSE 100 closed down nearly 0.7% lower at 7,301.82, with investors given little lift from a soft opening across the pond on Wall Street.

Heading the FTSE 100 loser board was private equity and infrastructure group 3i (III) despite posting a 10% increase in first half net asset value (NAV) and raising its dividend. Shares slid close on 5% to £10.735.

Other heavy losers were metals firms Antofagasta, Evraz and Fresnillo.

Modestly bucking the wider trend was power company National Grid, which saw its share price gain 2.2p to 893.9p after reporting a 1% rise in half year profits and announcing an interim dividend of 16.57p per share.

GOING BIG ON BURBERRY

Biggest gainer in the FTSE 100 was luxury brand Burberry. Its shares rallied 3.3% to £21.29 as first half results revealed an 11% rise in first half profits on the success of new chief creative officer Richard Tisci's and despite the disruption to sales in Hong Kong.

Outside the FTSE, energy firm Premier Oil lost much of its earlier strength, adding just 0.3% to 86.94 after the news that it had cut its net debt by $300m by the end of October.

The company also announced a significant commercial discovery at Tolmount East, with development planning already well advanced. The project sanction is targeted for the second half of 2020.

Defence technology firm Qinetiq topped the FTSE 250 leaders, jumping more than 9% to 351.6p after revealing a 16% rise in core operating profits thanks to strong organic revenue growth.

SAFESTORE WOBBLES

Storage business Safestore failed to hold on to earlier gains, ending the day down 5p at 720p after reporting a 5.6% increase in revenue in the fourth quarter.

The UK division in particular performed well in the fourth quarter, growing total revenues by 5.9% and like-for-like revenues by 3.8%. Regional UK stores were strong with like-for-like revenue up 5.0% while London and the South East grew by 2.9%.

Going the other way was bus and rail firm FirstGroup, which paid a heavy price for a hefty write-down of its Greyhound US bus business. Shares in FirstGroup tanked 18.5% to 105.4p after it wrote down the value of the up for sale Greyhound by £124m, helping to push half-year pre-tax losses to £187m, versust £4.6m last year.


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