London shares ended the week on a low note after worse-than-expected US economic news left traders downbeat on Wall Street.
The FTSE 100 Index extended its losses earlier in the day to finish the session 18.6 points adrift at 4624.2.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was trading around its opening mark shortly after London’s close following news that the US economy grew at a slower-than-expected rate of 3.7% in the third quarter.
Uncertainty over the outcome of next week’s US presidential elections and the possibility of a fresh terror attack in the US were also weighing heavily on investors’ minds.
The price of a barrel of US light crude was rallying slightly after recent falls, standing at just over 51 US dollars following the close in London.
Oil companies were among the fallers today as investors fretted at the impact of the lower cost of crude.
After recording earlier losses, Cairn Energy was unchanged at 1472 by the close. However, Shell retreated 6.75p to 428.75p, losing yesterday’s gains sparked by plans to scrap its historic twin-board structure. Rival BP was also down, shedding 2p to 527.5p.
Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s drifted lower after reports said it was lining up a team to defend itself against a possible takeover bid. Shares dropped 1.25p to 257.75p.
However, rival Morrisons topped the Footsie risers with a 2% or 4.5p lift to 226.5p after chairman Ken Morrison apparently gave an upbeat account of the group’s prospects during a lunch with experts from Swiss investment bank UBS.
On a lacklustre day for corporate news, Aviva lost 0.5p to 545p after reporting early signs of recovery in the UK market for its products and posting an 11% rise in total life and pensions new business to £10.8 billion.
Logistics group Wincanton rose 10p to 242p after saying it had signed a deal with GlaxoSmithKline that will overhaul the drug company’s supply chain in the north of England.
Elsewhere, home shopping company Ideal Shopping Direct saw its shares soar 22% or 26.5p to 149p after it announced trading had exceeded expectations.
Software group Cybit Holdings added nearly 5%, up 0.07p to 1.57p, after saying it had bought a tracking service that allows people to keep tabs on children and the elderly using mobile phone signals.
But shares in Eurotunnel fell nearly 3% after the struggling Channel Tunnel operator unveiled its long-awaited recovery programme. Shares were half a penny lower at 19p.
Photographic specialist Jessops was forced to cut its flotation price amid tough stock market conditions, setting a level of 155p as conditional trading in the shares began before full trading starts next week. The shares drifted 5p to 150p by the close.
The day’s biggest risers were Morrisons, up 4.5p to 226.5p, BSkyB putting on 8.75p to 508.5p, Land Securities adding 11p to 1193p and Abbey National advancing 5.5p to 632p.
Biggest fallers included DMGT, down 14p to 724.5p, Barclays off 10p at 532p, Yell Group losing 6.5p to 366p and Kingfisher weakening 5.25p to 302.25p.