Barclays tumbles - on a downgrading by Barclays : MARKET REPORT

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The Barclays banking group suffered the dubious privilege of feeling the impact of its own investment arm. Its shares tumbled 20.5p to 693.5p as its securities subsidiary, Barclays de Zoete Wedd, slashed its profit forecasts for the group.

Analyst Hugh Pye has reduced this year's forecast from pounds 2.1bn to pounds 1.9bn and next year's estimate from pounds 2.3bn to pounds 2.1bn.

Other banks could not escape the weight of such a dramatic downgrading. With Kleinwort Benson said to be negative on all the higher street clearers, Lloyds lost 14p to 663p; National Westminster 9p to 562p and HSBC (the Midland group) 9p to 844p. TSB declined 2p to 265p.

Lloyds also had to contend with reports that it intended to challenge for the National & Provincial Building Society, already under siege from Abbey National, off 2.5p to 496.5p.

Merchant banks, for so long buoyed by takeover hopes, were ruffled by the sorry profits tale and halved dividend from Hambros, down 28p to 183p, lowest for 10 years.

Kleinwort retreated 9p to 663p and SG Warburg, reflecting weakness in its fund management arm, Mercury Asset Management, lost 14p to 760p.

Hambros, however, is not short of fans. Many believe the poor results have left it vulnerable to a takeover strike and the shares will start to move ahead once the figures have taken their inevitable toll.

The stock market's five-day winning streak came to a halt. A series of profit downgradings did the damage, giving market-makers, many short of stock, an opportunity to hit prices in a bid to replenish their books.

With the deafening silence following the Ken and Eddie meeting leaving just a hint of a suspicion that rates could be edged higher and New York coming off its high, the FT-SE 100 index lost 9.2 points (after 18.8) to 3,370.8.

Even the rumour-ridden drug sector quietened down with Zeneca a shade easier at 993.5p and Fisons and Medeva making modest headway.

Glaxo Wellcome was firm at 732.5p. Excitement is increasing about the prospects for an Aids drug developed by a Canadian group where Glaxo has a 17 per cent interest.

Allied Domecq, the drinks group, enjoyed a late run, rising 11p to 547p. The Interbrew bid for John Labatt, the Canadian brewer, is seen as improving the prospect for Allied's own retreat from the brewing industry, represented by its half-share in Carlsberg Tetley.

The growing strength of Interbrew could, it is thought, encourage Carlsberg, the Danish group owning the other half of CT, to attempt to buy full control, provoking a battle with Whitbread which has acquired a thirst for the brewing operation.

Highland Distilleries, the Famous Grouse group, was firm at 364p after meeting analysts. Warburg, advising clients to sell into strength, cut its profit forecast from pounds 45m to pounds 42.5m.

WH Smith continued to recover from the slide prompted by its profit warning. The shares edged forward 10p to 355p with MPs' support for the Net Book Agreement seen as a mixed blessing.

Cadbury Schweppes remained neglected after investment meetings. Societe Generale Strauss Turnbull and Warburg are among those to turn negative; the shares fell 6.5p to 469.5p.

Electricals were the day's stars as special dividends and share buy-backs, real and rumoured, created attention. Seeboard followed its 11p jump on Tuesday with a 13p gain to 408p and Eastern put on 17p at 676p. Yorkshire added 23p to 721p and even Northern joined in with a 10p gain to 805p.

Rank Organisation, selling its last hotel for pounds 65m, shaded to 440p as NatWest Securities fretted that profit downgrades are likely to appear.

Calor, the gas group dominated by SHV, the Dutch investment operation, was firm at 267p on talk of expansion deals in India. Cray Electronics, in brisk trading, was at one time down 8.5p, closing at 59p, off 5p. Rumours of a shareholding being dumped and the uninspiring profits from Racal Electronics did the damage. Vodafone gained 7p to 219.5p on its results.

GEC shaded to 324p as the market continued to await its counter-shot for VSEL. Berisford, the kitchens group, responded to Robert Fleming enthusiasm with a 9p gain to 259p.

BOC, the chemical group, pushed ahead 7p to 813p accompanied by talk of a bid, with Hanson emerging as the favourite to pounce.

Rolls-Royce and Cobham (the old Flight Refuelling) captured overseas orders. A pounds 200m contract for an electricity substation at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, left Rolls a shade easier at 186p but a pounds 60m Royal Navy order spurred Cobham 15p to 379p.

Erith, the builder's merchant, improved 6p to 74p, a new high for the year. Graham has expressed interest in bidding but seems to have lost some of its enthusiasm because of the rise in Erith shares from a low of 53p.

Brake Brothers, the convenience food group largely supplying the catering industry, gained 14p to 602p on talk the family-run business could soon be involved in corporate action.