FTSE recoups losses
The FTSE 100 Index was dragged lower by falling financial stocks Getty Images

Top flight shares fell in afternoon trading as heavyweight financial shares drifted lower after a downgrade at Standard Chartered.

The FTSE 100 Index fell 24.1 points to 6855.3, after analysts at Barclays cut its rating on Standard Chartered to 'underweight' from 'equal weight'. The FTSE 250 Index edged up 13 points to 18039.

The Bank of England cut the interest rate by half to 0.25% last month to guard against a downturn following the Brexit vote. However, lenders find it tough to generate cash in a low interest environment.

Standard Chartered fell 12.2p to 646.3p, Provident Financial was 52p lower at 2976p and Lloyds Banking Group slipped 0.5p to 59p.

Retailer Sports Direct pledged to cut back on zero hour contracts after a damaging report on longstanding working practices at its key Shirebrook warehouse in Derbyshire.

The group, run by founder and billionaire Mike Ashley, said it "deeply regrets" the conditions at the warehouse, which were likened by MPs to a Victorian workhouse earlier this year.

Shares at the chain lifted 15.3p to 347.6p, as investors hoped the group was getting to grips with its long-running governance problems.

Spreadex financial analyst Connor Campbell said: "Revealing how low the bar had been set for good news from the company Sports Direct jumped more than 5.5%, hitting its highest level since the Brexit referendum in the process, just by pledging to address the 'serious shortcomings' revealed by the recent investigation."

In afternoon trading the biggest risers in the FTSE 100 Index were Berkeley Group (+91p to 2781p), EasyJet (+23p to 1154p), International Airlines Group (+7.5p to 399.8p), Anglo American (+14.1p to 828.1p) and Mondi (+26p to 1585p).

The biggest fallers in the FTSE 100 Index were Standard Chartered (-12.2p to 646.3p), Provident Financial (-52p to 2976p), Carnival (-58p to 3444p), Standard Life (-5p to 363p) and BP (-5.5p to 429.3p).

In afternoon trading the biggest risers in the FTSE 250 Index were Redrow (+26.3p to410.6p), Sports Direct (+15.3p to 347.6p), Renishaw (+99p to2741p), Hochschild Mining (+8.7p to 273.1p) and Elementis (+5.7p to220.4p).

The biggest fallers in the FTSE 250 Index were Grainger (-8.6p to 227.1p), IP Group (-5.3p to 188p), OneSavings Bank (-6.4p to 257p), Sophos Group (-6p to 251p) and Greencore Group (-7.8p to 356.8p).