Eurozone recovery worries stall FTSE

Worries over the eurozone recovery held back the FTSE 100 Index from adding to 22-month highs today.

Worries over the eurozone recovery held back the FTSE 100 Index from adding to 22-month highs today.

A mixed session for London shares reflected the absence of major corporate news, although traders noted revised official figures showing flat growth in the countries using the euro during the last three months of last year.

The Footsie was off 2.9 points to 5777.4 as UK services figures also came in slightly below expectations despite better news on jobs in the sector.

Heavyweight mining stocks were lower in London as investors chose to take some recent profits and metal prices echoed the temporary pause in equity markets.

BHP Billiton and Antofagasta were the two biggest casualties, down 43.5p at 2291p and 14p at 1080p respectively.

The main move of the session came from hedge fund Man Group after a strong weekly performance from its previously stuttering AHL fund as well as positive broker comment. Shares jumped more than 6%, or 16.1p to 268.1p.

Many retailers were also on the front foot after brokers at Citigroup upgraded fashion chain Next, helping shares up 60p to 2269p. B&Q owner Kingfisher was also up 9.1p to 232.7p while Home Retail Group, which owns Argos and Homebase, was 6.2p better at 281.2p.

Elsewhere, property firms were in favour after UBS upgraded Land Securities and lifted its price target on the stock. Shares in Land Sec were 6p higher at 688p, while Hammerson lifted 0.3p to 397.6p.

The leading Footsie faller was EnQuest on its first day of trading following the merger of the North Sea assets of oil and gas services firm Petrofac and Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum. Shares were off 3.6p to 100.1p.

A number of stocks also turned ex-dividend, meaning investors are not entitled to the latest payout. FT publisher Pearson was off 34p to 1016p, Prudential lost 17p to 560p and British Land shed 10.7p to 479.7p.

In the FTSE 250, pubs chain Marston’s powered ahead after it said it remained on track to meet full-year expectations, helped by a strong Easter holiday trading period for its managed pubs estate.

Shares were 4% higher, up 4p to 98.4p, as the group also said premium ale volumes rose 4% in the first half of its financial year.

But secure power firm Chloride lost 4.1p to 218.7p despite trading in line with expectations and further momentum in new orders.

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