LONDON -- It would have been nice to bring news of some healthy price rises today, but with Spain's big banking bailout and uncertainties surrounding the forthcoming meeting of EU leaders in Brussels, it hasn't been a good day for the markets.
The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) had taken a fall of 38 points by early afternoon to stand on 5,480 points, and that was partly due to Barclays, Lloyds Banking, and Royal Bank of Scotland all sliding in early trade.
But away from banking, there are falls throughout the FTSE indexes today that have added to some very disappointing 2012 performances. Here's a quick look at three substantial year-to-date losers in the top-tier index.
Shire Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: SHPGY ) has been fighting a battle against the U.S. licensing of a generic competitor to its Adderall XR product for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And Shire lost that battle today, causing the shares to plummet 250 pence, or 13%, to 1,716 pence. That brings the year-to-date loss to 22%.
The Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead for Watson Pharmaceuticals to produce a cheap version of the drug, and that immediately led to analysts downgrading their forecasts for Shire -- though the company itself says it will remain competitive in the Adderall XR market, and it still expects to deliver good full-year earnings growth.
It wasn't a big price drop on the day, but Wm. Morrison (LSE: MRW.L ) shares fell 1% to 265 pence. It's the latest in a long slide that has seen the price fall about 19% so far this year.
Today's cause was the resignation of finance director Richard Pennycook, who was widely seen as a strong guiding hand. Mr. Pennycook has failed to land the top job at the company twice now, so it's perhaps not surprising that he has gone looking elsewhere. But coming at a time when it looks like supermarket growth has stalled in the U.K., is this bad news for the sector?
Well, the shares of Tesco and J Sainsbury have also been in a slump of late, but there have been no words of pessimism from the world's best-known Tesco shareholder, Warren Buffett. If you want to know his take, check out the Motley Fool report "The One UK Share That Warren Buffett Loves" -- but hurry while it's still free.
The third share for today is insurance giant Aviva (LSE: AV.L ) , which is showing the same depressing signs that are affecting a lot of the industry. Down another 4% today, the shares have fallen 13% since the turn of the year.
Not all insurers are doing so badly, and Prudential is actually up 12% this year, while RSA Insurance shares are flat for 2012. But Aviva has suffered more and is hurting enough to be closing two regional offices. Maybe it's Aviva's annoying Paul Whitehouse ads that are driving people away.
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