The blue-chip FTSE 100 slipped 0.2%, while the midcap FTSE 250 dropped 0.9%, with global markets also in a risk-averse mood ahead of rate decisions from the U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England during the week.
Unilever rose 0.7% after the company appointed Hein Schumacher, currently the chief of Dutch dairy business FrieslandCampina, to replace CEO Alan Jope from July 1.
“Unilever has been managing to navigate through the turbulence pretty adeptly, and the appointment of a new CEO has been greeted positively by the market, in expectation he will help steady the ship further,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown.
“He’s the current CEO of the Dutch dairy and food giant, FrieslandCampina, so he’ll be seen as both a safe pair of hands and a fresh injection of ideas for the company.”
After a positive start to the year on optimism over China relaxing its tight COVID-19 rules and hopes that the Fed will shift to smaller rate hikes, stocks have traded sideways in the recent days as investors digested mixed earnings reports.
The BoE, the first of the major central banks to turn hawkish, is expected to deliver its tenth rate hike since December 2021 on Thursday. Traders have priced in a 50 bps rate hike, followed by another 25 bps in March before BoE pauses.
888 Holdings tumbled 23.2%, on course for its biggest percentage loss since 2006, after the bookmaker said CEO Itai Pazner would step down immediately and it would suspend VIP activities in some markets pending an internal investigation.
Legal & General was down 2.5% after the insurer said Chief Executive Nigel Wilson was retiring after a decade in the top job but would remain in the post until a successor took the helm.
Ryanair slipped 1.2% despite posting a record after-tax profit for its October-December quarter. The stock hit an 11-month high last week amid a recovery in stock markets.