London close: Stocks flat ahead of Jackson Hole amid geopolitical nerves
London stocks ended on a mixed note at the start of the week as investors remained cautious amid geopolitical tensions.
The FTSE 100 was marginally lower, slipping 0.07% or 5.10 points to close at 7,318.88, while the pound was up 0.2% versus the dollar at 1.2900.
In parallel, the second-tier index finished the session up by 0.10% or 20.44 points to 19,646.90.
Investors put their concerns about North Korea to one side last week following events in Washington and terrorist attacks in Spain, but with US and South Korea holding military exercises this week, renewed jitters were expected to set in.
IG analyst David Madden said: "Tensions between the US and North Korea are still simmering away in the background. The two nations are locked in a stalemate, and this week we will see the US and South Korea engage in their 10-day military exercises. The annual exercise always angers the North Korean regime, this time the stakes are higher given the current environment."
Market participants were also keeping an eye on developments across the pond after US President Trump fired divisive chief strategist Steve Bannon on Friday and ahead of the US Federal Reserve's annual symposium at Jackson Hole, which kicks off on Thursday.
Back in the UK, Rightmove said overnight that house prices fell 0.9% in August, marking their biggest month-on-month decline of the year. On an annual basis, prices ticked up 3.1% from a 2.8% increase the month before. Meanwhile, the average house price fell to £313,663 from £317,421 in July.
In corporate news, Rathbone Brothers's confirmation that it was in exclusive merger talks with stockbroker Smith & Williamson failed to give the stock a boost, while TBC Bank was in the black after posting a rise in interim profit.
Hikma Pharmaceuticals was boosted by an upgrade to 'hold' from 'underperform' at Jefferies.
On the downside, Provident Financial was the biggest faller on the FTSE following an article in the Sunday Times suggesting that some of the city's most powerful hedge funds have built up significant short positions in the subprime lender amid speculation it is set to issue another profit warning and cut its dividend.
Real estate investment trust Shaftesbury finished flat after saying it has entered into a contract with PMB Holdings to acquire a long-leasehold interest in 90-104 Berwick Street, London W1, at £38.5m, while British Land lost ground as HSBC cut the stock to 'hold' from 'buy'.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 2,243.00p 3.17%
Pearson (PSON) 619.00p 2.31%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,559.00p 1.51%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,990.00p 1.27%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,367.50p 1.22%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,295.00p 1.17%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 954.50p 1.17%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 195.00p 1.14%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 64.57p 1.03%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 3,197.50p 0.88%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Provident Financial (PFG) 1,742.00p -5.94%
Shire Plc (SHP) 3,613.00p -4.02%
St James's Place (STJ) 1,172.00p -1.43%
Barclays (BARC) 193.25p -1.23%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,324.00p -1.19%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,515.00p -1.17%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 254.80p -1.05%
Centrica (CNA) 199.50p -1.04%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 264.30p -0.94%
British Land Company (BLND) 605.50p -0.90%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,172.00p 4.74%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 464.90p 4.07%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,512.00p 3.77%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 432.20p 3.52%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 157.20p 3.22%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 1,600.00p 2.56%
Just Group (JUST) 152.60p 2.42%
NMC Health (NMC) 2,385.00p 2.36%
Sanne Group (SNN) 745.50p 2.26%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 731.50p 2.16%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 262.80p -2.52%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 183.70p -2.49%
Carillion (CLLN) 49.58p -2.02%
Mitie Group (MTO) 266.40p -1.99%
Virgin Money Holdings (UK) (VM.) 268.00p -1.80%
IP Group (IPO) 132.00p -1.79%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 682.00p -1.66%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 269.10p -1.61%
Vectura Group (VEC) 108.50p -1.54%
Aldermore Group (ALD) 225.30p -1.53%