© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
By Devik Jain and Sruthi Shankar
(Reuters) -The UK’s top share index closed down on Tuesday as bearish brokerage calls on companies like Rolls Royce and weakness in defensive sectors offset gains in commodity-linked stocks.
Rolls-Royce (LON:RR) slumped 5.5% to its lowest level in a month after J.P. Morgan downgraded the aero engineer’s stock to “underweight” while raising concerns about its plan to develop electric aero engines and green fuel options.
Overall, declines in defensive stocks such as AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) , which hit a record high last week, and Unilever (LON:ULVR) weighed on the blue-chip FTSE 100. The index fell 0.6%, ending down for a second consecutive day.
“The bounce from the March lows has carried the FTSE 100 back to the February highs, but a short-term pause now looks likely,” Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading platform IG said in a note.
“But even so, with inflation carrying prices higher and yields still moving up in the months to come, the index seems well-placed for further gains.”
Britons’ earnings shrank by the most since 2013 in February, when adjusted for surging inflation, numbers showed on Tuesday, despite unemployment falling to a rate last seen in late 2019 and one that has not been lower since 1974.
The Bank of England is watching closely for signs that the lack of candidates to fill jobs will push up wages to the extent that it risks a wage-price spiral.
Among other single stocks, Deliveroo slid 1.1% after the food delivery firm warned that consumer spending could slow for the remainder of the year amid a cost-of-living squeeze.
The domestically focused midcap FTSE 250 index declined 0.5%, with South Africa’s financial services group Investec among the top losers.
Plus500 (LON:PLUSP) Ltd gained 6.2% after the online trading firm forecast full-year revenue ahead of market expectations.
Diploma (LON:DPLM) jumped 11.5% after the technical products and services provider hiked its 2022 earnings outlook.
Rolls-Royce, defensives drag down UK’s blue-chip index