The brewer, Whitbread, became the latest casualty of worries about a slowdown in consumer spending, slumping 53p to 771p. ICI collapsed 35p to 520p as Merrill Lynch cut its profit forecast to pounds 320m. The group made pounds 518m last time.
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HOPES OF lower interest rates helped the FTSE 100 to recover from a poor start. It closed 13.1 up at 5,281.7 as underlying inflation fell to the Government's 2.5 per cent target for the first time since January. Supporting stocks, however, remained depressed.