London close: Commodity losses, weak US May jobs report cap gains
After beginning on a chipper note, the FTSE 100 gradually lost its shine and slipped back towards its starting levels over the course of Friday trading, undermined by weak commodity prices and disappointing jobs data in the States, in that order.
The FTSE 100 closed up 0.05% to 7,547.63, while the FTSE 250 closed down 0.04% to 20,002.75.
Copper and oil prices slipped, with traders referencing concerns over China for losses in the former and data showing rising US oil output as the chief trigger for weakness in the latter.
On a related note, on 30 May analysts at Deutsche Bank sounded a slightly less pessimistic note towards miners´ shares.
However, they expected the China credit impulse to turn negative in coming months, which "would be consistent with further weakness in iron ore prices".
Lacklustre jobs data in the States did little to help matters as it buoyed Sterling. To take note of, some traders in the City linked strength in defensive stocks such as Diageo and Unilever to 'safe-haven' buying ahead of the elections.
American firms took on 138,000 new hires last month - fewer than the 185,000 expected - and a combined 66,000 less than initially estimated over the prior two months, the US Department of Labor said on Friday.
Many economists appeared unfazed by data, although at least a couple of top research teams, Barclays among them, were slightly more cautious than the rest.
Barclays's Michael Gapen said: "employment growth is one of the stronger recessionary indicators, and slower employment growth is something we always take seriously [...] we would take it as a negative signal should employment growth continue to soften.
"However, slower employment growth at present could be related to the abating of post-election euphoria [...] or, slower employment in April and May could be related to seasonal factors that pulled hiring into January and February. In our view, the data are not yet conclusive."
Yet on Wall Street the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were all setting fresh record highs.
This morning, the UK construction purchasing managers' index (PMI) for May was better than expected.
Acting as a backdrop, the latest poll from Ipsos Mori showed the Tories' lead over Labour had shrunk to five points from 15 points just over two weeks ago.
On the corporate front, gold miners Randgold Resources and Fresnillo firmed with the price of safe-haven gold.
Pharmaceutical, consumer goods, tobacco and general financial companies were broadly rising.
In the general commodities sphere Rio Tinto and Glencore made small gains, while Antofagasta and Anglo American were falling at the close. BP and Shell fell with the price of crude oil.
GlaxoSmithKline was also in the black after it and its majority-owned specialist HIV company ViiV Healthcare announced regulatory submissions to the European Medicines Agency and US FDA for a single-tablet, two-drug regimen for the maintenance treatment of HIV-1 infection.
EasyJet was boosted by a positive note from HSBC, which upped its price target on the airline to 1,550p from 1,450p saying it expects evidence of the business’s recovery to build into the summer.
Whitbread was under the cosh after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to 'sell' from 'neutral' and cut the price target to 3,900p from 4,000p.
Old Mutual was among the gainers as the South African rand continued to gain altitude after saying its Old Mutual Wealth completed the acquisition of financial adviser network Caerus Capital Group.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,655.00p 4.01%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,651.00p 3.77%
Convatec Group (CTEC) 342.60p 3.57%
Old Mutual (OML) 197.00p 3.30%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 797.50p 2.11%
Carnival (CCL) 5,135.00p 1.99%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,148.00p 1.84%
Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) 8,560.00p 1.66%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,325.00p 1.40%
Shire Plc (SHP) 4,554.00p 1.38%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 184.80p -2.74%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 367.70p -2.03%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 1,002.00p -1.96%
Intu Properties (INTU) 271.90p -1.91%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,214.00p -1.70%
Centrica (CNA) 198.40p -1.68%
British Land Company (BLND) 630.00p -1.64%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,680.00p -1.58%
BP (BP.) 462.75p -1.54%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 805.00p -1.53%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Greggs (GRG) 1,123.00p 3.12%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 1,954.00p 2.79%
Greencore Group (GNC) 248.40p 2.77%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 6,735.00p 2.59%
Redefine International (RDI) 38.96p 2.28%
IWG (IWG) 351.60p 2.24%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 172.10p 2.14%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 289.40p 2.08%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 198.90p 2.00%
Rathbone Brothers (RAT) 2,648.00p 1.92%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Tullow Oil (TLW) 176.00p -5.38%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 196.30p -3.21%
McCarthy & Stone (MCS) 179.50p -2.66%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 361.30p -2.46%
Computacenter (CCC) 837.00p -2.39%
Debenhams (DEB) 48.45p -2.26%
Capital & Counties Properties (CAPC) 303.10p -2.26%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 607.00p -2.25%
Allied Minds (ALM) 145.40p -2.22%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 173.00p -1.93%