LONDON MARKETS: Miners, Sainsbury's Push FTSE 100 To A Close In The Red

By Sara Sjolin and Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatchFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

ITV shares also fall after CEO steps down

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

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The FTSE 100 index lost 0.2% to finish at 7,234.53, erasing part of Tuesday's 0.6% gain (

Retail in focus: J Sainsbury PLC's stock (SBRY.LN) posted the biggest loss among FTSE components, declining 5.7%. The supermarket giant reported a 0.6% fall in full-year like-for-like sales and cut dividends 16% (

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 ( 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 omn Easter eggs and hot cross buns, Kantar Worldpanel reported.

Tesco's shares closed 3.4% lower for the FTSE 100's fourth-biggest drop, while Morrison's fell 1.4%.

Marks & Spencer Group PLC (MKS.LN) lost 1.2% after it appointed Jill McDonald (, currently chief executive of the car parts and bicycle retailer Halfords Group PLC (HFD.LN), as new nonfood chief ( Halfords shares gave up 2.6%.

Heavy metals: Mining shares also dragged on the FTSE 100, as a slide in metals prices ( helped drive investors out of those stocks. Shares of Antofagasta PLC (ANTO.LN) fell 2.4%, BHP Billiton PLC (BLT.LN) (BHP.AU) (BHP.AU) lost 2%, and Rio Tinto (RIO) (RIO) (RIO) gave up 2.7%.

Other stock movers: ITV PLC (ITV.LN) was another big decliner, down 1.8%, after the commercial broadcaster said Chief Executive Adam Crozier is stepping down ( on June 30 after seven years in the role.

On the upside, shares in Sage Group PLC (SGE.LN) rose 3.4%. The software company reported a rise ( in net profit the first half of the fiscal year and raised its dividend.

The pound slipped back to $1.2911 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. Investors world-wide closely track the Fed's policy statements and their implications for the world's largest economy and other countries.

Read:6 things to watch for in the Fed's policy statement (

"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 12:09 ET (16:09 GMT)