The FTSE 100 Index edged lower today as traders paused for breath after Thursday’s G20 euphoria.
The summit agreement and better economic news from the US sparked a 4% advance in the previous session, while Wall Street’s Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly broke through the 8,000 barrier overnight.
But trading was tentative ahead of crucial US jobs data due this afternoon, which will give direction to investors heading into the weekend. The FTSE was 6.3 points lower at 4118.7 by mid-morning.
Despite a flat wider market, Royal Bank of Scotland was the Footsie’s leading riser as chairman Philip Hampton sought to draw a line under the bank’s recent troubles ahead of the company’s annual meeting in Edinburgh later today.
The stock gained 13% or 3.7p to 31.9p as the chairman reiterated cost saving targets of £2.5bn (€2.75bn) and a commitment to begin paying dividends again “as soon as practicable”.
Elsewhere in the sector Barclays also rose 7.8p to 176.2p and Lloyds Banking Group cheered 3.2p to 79.7p, but HSBC edged 8p lower to 451p.
On a quiet day for corporate news, B&Q owner Kingfisher climbed the leaders’ board after Panmure Gordon brokers said the DIY chain was likely to benefit from a later Easter. This saw the shares gain 5.5p to 169.9p.
British Airways, which announced 300 job losses under its voluntary redundancy scheme today, also climbed 8.5p to 164.2p.
The fallers board was dominated by supermarket chains, with Morrisons down 12.5p to 259.5p, Tesco off 11.9p to 336.8p and Sainsbury’s 9.5p down at 314.5p.
Marks & Spencer also shed some of the gains made earlier this week after its better than expected trading update, standing 10p lighter at 318.5p.
In the FTSE 250, National Express shares continued their recent surge after adding another 27.5p at 223.5p.