Market Report: Traders ditch supermarkets

Traders sick of Christmas food decided to ditch supermarkets yesterday as concerns grew that big promotions will have hit margins.

Shares in food retailers have underperformed in the run-up to Christmas and yesterday the sector took 1.8 points off the Footsie with Sainsbury's down 7.3p to 371.1p, Marks & Spencer off 7.5p to 442.7p, Morrison 4p weaker at 263.7p and Tesco dipping 3.65p to 336.35p.

The post-Christmas retail tumble also hit Primark owner Associated British Foods, down 25p to 2,470p, and pile-it-high-sell-it-cheap retailer Sports Direct, which dropped 11.5p to 717p.

After six days of gains, the FTSE 100 declined 19.6 points to 6,731.27 on very low volumes.

Nick Lewis, head of trading and market risk at financial spreadbetter Capital Spreads, said: "With such a good rally into both the month and year-end, a bit of profit-taking is no surprise.

"But given recent action, I'm looking for a further test of the highs on the half-day of trading on New Year's Eve, taking the lead from a very buoyant US market."

Reports that the Government could sell its remaining 33 per cent in Lloyds Banking Group next year were followed by a 0.42p dip to 78.42p for the bank.

International Personal Finance leapt to the top of the mid-tier table after Numis issued a buy note. The lender's share price fell 25 per cent over two days before Christmas due to regulatory issues in Poland – it is facing a fine but is appealing. Numis said it is worth buying the shares after the correction and punters agreed as it collected 45.8p to 501p.

Over on Aim, Kazakhstan-focused explorer Max Petroleum's half-year results disappointed despite good drilling results at a well and it slid 0.5p to 3.3p.

Parkmead has agreed a $11.2m deal for a further 20 per cent interest in the Athena oil field in the North Sea and surged 4.5p to 232.5p.

Côte d'Ivoire palm oil specialist DekelOil Public reported a positive mill update and glided up 0.075p to 1p.

Ariana Resources got planning for its gold-silver project in western Turkey and was 0.08p brighter at 1.35p. The clearing of an overhang of shares sold by Blackrock helped healthcare company Futura Medical up 5.5p to 71.5p.

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