Britain's leading share index slipped on Thursday, weighed down by weakness in heavyweight energy stocks after recent gains, with investors also looking ahead to futures and options expiries.
The first quarterly futures and options expiries of the New Year on Friday should add a little spice to markets that, despite recent encouraging data on both sides of the pond, can best be described as docile, said Mike Mason, trader at Sucden Financial Private Clients.
At the close, the FTSE 100 index <.FTSE> was down 4.71 points or 0.1 percent at 5,940.72, having shed 0.2 percent in the previous session following five successive days of gains - the longest winning streak since last summer.
Volume was slightly better than of late, at 117 percent of the 90-day daily average, as investors positioned for the expiries.
Integrated oils <.FTNMX0530> were the biggest drag on the blue chip index, reversing some of the gains made in previous sessions as Brent crude fell back after recent strength.
Miners <.FTNMX1770> however, which were Wednesday's biggest casualties, enjoyed a rebound, tracking a recovery in copper prices, with Rio Tinto
Among individual stocks, Shire
Shire earlier surprised investors by pulling its U.S. application to sell Fabry disease drug Replagal because of signals from regulators that it would need to conduct further clinical trials before winning approval.
TESCO TRIPPED UP
But elsewhere in the stores sector, clothing retailer Next
Aided by share buybacks, we believe this will be another year of double-digit growth in EPS, UBS said in a note.
Cruises operator Carnival
Carnival is seen as being in a strongest bull trend within our model and the stock is now testing above a downtrend channel that has been in place since late January 2011 and will also shortly test its 20 week exponential moving average line which is found at 2,035 pence, Silverwind said in a note.
U.S. blue chips <.DJ1> were 0.3 percent higher by London's close after another batch of U.S. economic data, including February U.S. PPI numbers, and U.S. weekly jobless claims, continued to point to a slowly improving domestic economy.
The U.S. economy is showing good signs of recovery and Europe seems for the moment at least have a grip on their sovereign debt crisis. However you should never say never. There are very few people who really know what will happen around the corner, said Simon Furlong, trader at Spreadex Ltd.
(Editing by David Holmes)