LONDON MARKETS: Miners, Sainsbury's Pull FTSE 100 Into The Red

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

ITV shares fall after CEO steps down

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U.K. stocks dropped on Wednesday, as commodity stocks fell alongside a slide in metals prices and as shares in supermarkets moved lower after downbeat market-share data.

The FTSE 100 index lost 0.3% to 7,229.27, paring back from a 0.6% gain on Tuesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-advances-with-bp-rising-manufacturing-report-on-deck-2017-05-02).

Retail in focus: Shares of J Sainsbury PLC (SBRY.LN) posted one of the biggest losses, declining 2.4%. The supermarket giant reported a 0.6% fall in full-year like-for-like sales and cut dividends 16% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sainsburys-cuts-dividend-as-full-year-sales-fall-2017-05-03).

The top four U.K. supermarkets -- Sainsbury's, Tesco PLC (TSCO.LN) , Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) subsidiary Asda and Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC (MRW.LN) -- all lost market share (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/top-4-uk-supermarkets-get-easter-egg-sales-boost-2017-05-03) to German low-cost retailers Aldi and Lidl in the first three months of the year, even as their sales got a boost from spending on Easter eggs and hot cross buns, Kantar Worldpanel reported.

Tesco shares traded 0.3% lower after the report, while Morrison's fell 0.1%.

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Marks & Spencer Group PLC (MKS.LN) lost 1.1% after it appointed Jill McDonald (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/marks-spencer-names-jill-mcdonald-nonfood-chief-2017-05-03), currently chief executive of the car parts and bicycle retailer Halfords Group PLC (HFD.LN) , as new nonfood chief (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/marks-spencer-names-jill-mcdonald-nonfood-chief-2017-05-03). Halfords shares gave up 3.3%.

Heavy metals: More broadly, mining companies were the biggest drag on the FTSE 100, as a slide in metals prices drove investors out of those stocks. Shares of Antofagasta PLC (ANTO.LN) fell 3.7%, BHP Billiton PLC (BLT.LN) (BHP.AU) (BHP.AU) lost 2.1%, and Rio Tinto (RIO) (RIO) (RIO) gave up 1.4%.

Stock movers: ITV PLC (ITV.LN) led the list of decliners, down 1.2%, after the commercial broadcaster said Chief Executive Adam Crozier is stepping down (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/itv-ceo-adam-crozier-to-step-down-2017-05-03) on June 30 after seven years in the role.

On a more upbeat note, shares in Sage Group PLC (SGE.LN) rose 2%. The software company reported a rise (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sage-pretax-profit-rises-lifts-dividend-2017-05-03) in net profit the first half of the fiscal year and raised its dividend.

The pound slipped back to $1.2927 from $1.2939 late Tuesday in New York.

Fed ahead: Later in the day, attention turns to the U.S. where the Federal Reserve will announce its latest interest rate decision at 7 p.m. London time, or 2 p.m. Eastern Time. The central bank is widely expected to keep rates on hold and not make any changes until its June meeting.

Read:6 things to watch for in the Fed's policy statement (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/six-things-to-watch-for-in-the-feds-policy-statement-2017-05-02)

"While the Fed decision itself may not surprise anyone -- with markets pricing in only a 5% chance of a rate hike this evening -- the statement could offer important clues on the central banks intentions at upcoming meetings," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda in a note.

"In the absence of a press conference with Chair Janet Yellen, the statement is all we have to go off and if the Fed is aiming to raise rates again in June, it may signal its intention to do so," he added.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 03, 2017 05:14 ET (09:14 GMT)