FTSE 100 slips lower on early retail softness

London stocks turn mildly lower in early deals with retail and related prominent among the blue-chip losers' list and Next (NXT) particularly savaged after its latest update.

The top-100 index achieved fresh all-time closing highs in each of its past four sessions.

Soon after the open, FTSE 100 was down 0.19 points, or 0.0%, to 7177.7, while FTSE 250 was down 17.89, or 0.1%, to 18,122.8.

Next (NXT), down 11.84% to 4205p, said its total sales for the year to Dec. 24 were down 1.1%, and in the 54 days to the same date were down 0.4%. It sees group profit before tax at £792m on central guidance, from a previously guided range of £785m-£825m.

Fellow high-street retailers Burberry (BRBY), down 1.6% to 1476p, and Dixons Carphone (DC.), off 1.38% to 336.3p, also suffered. Several supermarkets traced M&S' (MKS) fall of 5.28% to 326.3p, while Associated British Foods (ABF) shed 3.36% to 2620p.

Utilities were notable among blue-chip fallers, as were several miners, commercial property and an assorted bag of insurers.

Top-100 index risers and fallers were roughly evenly split. To the upside, it was house builders in focus. Barratt (BDEV) added 2.72% to 477.65p, while Taylor Wimpey (TW.) improved 1.54% to 157.9p.

Banks were also on the front foot, led up by RBS (RBS), up 1.1% to 233.55p, and Standard Chartered (STAN), ahead 1.01% to 684.65p. Other miners made gains, as did Shell (RDSA) and BP (BP.).

At 8.34am, WTI crude was up 0.86% to $52.78/bbl and Brent was up 0.96% to $56.00/bbl. Gold was up 0.18% to $1164.1/oz, with silver and copper also firming.

BIGGER MOVERS

Spectra Systems (SPSY), up 25.49% to 32p, expects its profits for the year ended 31 December 2016 to significantly exceed market expectations. Revenue is also expected to be ahead of market expectations.

Range Resources (RRL), up 18.14% to 0.42p, said that, as a result of the continued well workover programme, commencement of waterflood production at the Morne Diablo project, as well as development drilling, the exit production rate for 2016 exceeded 800 bopd.

InfraStrata (INFA), down 17.86% to 0.58p, is continuing to examine its options with its advisers for securing the necessary funding to enable work to commence on the front-end engineering design for the Islandmagee gas storage project, as well as to provide additional working capital for the company.

Metminco (MNC) rose 4707.69% to 6.25p as its shares were restored to trading after a 50-to-1 security consolidation.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

SolGold (SOLG), up 6.74% to 25.75p, has provided an exploration update for its Cascabel copper-gold porphyry project in Ecuador.

B&M European Value Retail (BME), up 6.1% to 293.9p, reports a strong third quarter driven by record Christmas trading.

B.P. Marsh & Partners (BPM), up 4.84% to 216.5p, has agreed to sell its entire 37.94% shareholding in Besso Insurance Group Limited for cash.

Hilton Food Group (HFG), up 4.26% to 672.5p, has signed a 50/50 joint venture agreement with Sonae Modelo Continente, Portugal's leading food retailer, for the supply of a wide range of packaged beef, lamb, veal and pork products to Sonae stores in Portugal.

Corero Network Security (CNS), up 2.86% to 9p, has won five 'as-a-service' subscription-based contracts for its DDoS protection products and technology in the final quarter of 2016, with an aggregate annualised contract value of $0.3m.

Accrol Group (ACRL), down 1.98% to 124p, has reported H1 revenues of £63.9m, up 8.8% on last time. Adjusted EBITDA rose 1.5% to £7.1m.

Staffline (STAF), up 1.48% to 857.5p, said it expects to deliver full year results in line with market expectations.

Tekcapital (TEK), up 1.43% to 35.5p, said it is excited to report that it has produced and tested its natural uSalt product and have found that it provides a level of taste similar to traditional salt, but with about 40% less sodium.

Other stocks in the news included Aggreko (AGK), Carillion (CLLN), Ultra Electronics (ULE), Cambria Automobiles (CAMB), Wizz Air (WIZZ), ConvaTec Group (CTEC), Sphere Medical (SPHR), Applegreen (APGN), LGO Energy (LGO), Verseon (VSN) and NextEnergy Solar Fund (NESF).