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FTSE continues dampened week as it retreats from recent four-year highs

London’s top index continued to give back ground on Wednesday as a series of investment companies led the FTSE 100 further away from its recent four-year highs.

The index closed down 12.49 points to end the day on 7,744.87, after briefly dipping around 30 points lower than that.

The 0.2% drop added to the recent struggles for the FTSE, which just a week ago was being tipped by investors to hit an all-time record.

The fall was led by Abrdn, Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust and supermarket Ocado among others.

“The FTSE 100 is just one of a swathe of indices in the red in Europe and the US this afternoon,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading platform IG.

“For the UK’s main index, the past week has been one of losses overall, which is perhaps not surprising following the recent four-year high.

“Trading statements from UK plc this week have been OK, but not of the kind to really fire up enthusiasm in investors to chase the index at its current levels.

“For the FTSE 250, JD Wetherspoon’s numbers point towards the problem of investing in the UK economy at present – inflation is entrenched and consumer spending is constrained, which is hardly the kind of backdrop to tempt in fresh money to UK stocks.”

In Europe, the Dax and Cac 40 indexes both closed down 0.1%. On Wall Street, a short time after European markets closed, the Dow Jones was down 0.5% and the S&P 500 had given back 0.7%.

On currency markets, the pound rose slightly against the dollar to a little under 1.24, and to something over 1.13 against the euro.

In company news, easyJet hiked its guidance for the full year after the business welcomed more passengers in the last three months of 2022.

Passenger numbers rose by nearly half to more than 17 million during the period, it said, and full-year profit is now expected to be higher than previously thought.

The business said losses dropped from £213 million in the last three months of 2021 to £133 million in the final quarter of last year.

Elsewhere, pub chain JD Wetherspoon said sales jumped at the end of 2022, but it is still struggling to keep up with its pre-pandemic performance.

Like-for-like sales rose 18% in the last quarter of 2022 at the company’s 844 pubs, but are still 2% behind 2019 levels.

The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 were Aviva, up 14.4p at 455.7p, IAG, up 3.4p at 169.72p, United Utilities, up 19.5p at 1,078p, Severn Trent, up 48p at 2,833p, and Prudential, up 21.5p at 1,334p.

The biggest fallers were Ocado Group, down 36.2p at 697p, Experian, down 110p at 2,852p, Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, down 22.4p at 742.8p, Croda International, down 186p at 6,832p, and Spirax-Sarco, down 260p at 11,310p.