Sage hurt by downgrade as FTSE 100 treads water

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Sage was the heaviest faller in a flat London market.

Software (Xetra: 330400 - news) group Sage was the blue-chip laggard in a flat market after broker Bank of America Merrill Lynch turned negative on the shares.

A downgrade to “underperform” from “neutral” saw the FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) company slip 3.1pc this morning, the heaviest faller on London’s benchmark index. Analysts at the bank argued that the group's move to cloud computing will be taken “sceptically” by investors.

“Going forward the key driver for the stock will be the company’s ability to launch and gain traction with its new cloud solutions in key geographies,” they said.

“This, in our view, is a slow process, and the market should remain sceptical over the next few quarters given that historically very few companies have managed to transform themselves from on-premise vendors to credible cloud players.”

The wider FTSE 100 had a far less eventful start to the week and edged up less than a point in early trade. It was a similar situation on the mid-cap FTSE 250 (FTSE: ^FTMC - news) , which dipped 11 points, or less than 0.1pc.

Nevertheless, Angus Campell, head of market analysis at Capital Spreads, warned of jitters below the surface in the wake of last month's Ielection in Italy.

“Even though you wouldn’t have thought that the eurozone debt crisis was coming back to the fore as equity markets remain stable, there still remains a lot of political uncertainty and worry surrounding Italy,” he said.

“There’s still yet to be any government formed and as a reminder of just how that can affect a country’s economic prospects, ratings agency Fitch has downgraded them by a notch.”

Elsewhere among the individual movers in London, shares in brewer SABMiller advanced 1.4pc following a price target upgrade at RBC Capital markets.

On the mid-cap index, bookmaker Ladbrokes (LSE: LAD.L - news) climbed 6.6pc on news of a tie-up with gambling software company Playtech , a development which lifted shares in the latter 3.1pc.

Meanwhile, the call by the parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards for lenders to boost the capital they hold against their loan book hurt sentiment towards bank shares, with Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS.L - news) down 3.3pc, Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) 2.4pc lower and Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY.L - news) off 1.8pc