- FTSE closes down 25.89 at 6,527.89
- Ukraine and China give lower sentiment
- UK construction output 1.8 per cent in January
techMARK 2,765.31 -0.77%
FTSE 100 6,527.89 -0.40%
FTSE 250 16,124.92 -0.38%
Ongoing concerns about Ukraine and China ensured a poor finish to the week for UK stocks.
The FTSE 100 ended the final session of the week 25.89 below the opening bell, and down 184.78 points on the week - its worst since mid-2013 - at 6,527.89.
However, Capital Economics commented that, "given the twin threats from worries about a 'hard landing' in China and the crisis in Ukraine, it is perhaps surprising that global equities have not already fallen more than they have".
Speaking this afternoon, Russia's Prime Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country has no intention of putting "boots on the ground" in eastern Ukraine. These remarks lifted the main Wall Street benchmarks into the blue, but came too late for the Footsie, which had already finished trading.
His comments came as Russia's foreign ministry warned it could intervene in Ukraine to protect lives after at least one person died in clashes. A pro-Kiev demonstrator was stabbed to death and dozens of people were injured on Thursday following violent protests in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk.
Russia's foreign ministry said it showed the "leadership in Kiev does not control the situation in the country".
"Russia is conscious of its responsibility for the lives of compatriots and citizens in Ukraine and reserves the right to take these people under its protection," it added.
Russia has accused right-wing protesters of starting the violence.
The negotiations come ahead of a referendum in Crimea on Sunday to vote on whether the region stays in Ukraine or joins Russia.
Capital Economics added: "We think that markets would be right to be sanguine about China's economic slowdown and that neither Russia nor the West will allow events in the Crimean peninsula to spiral out of control. Nonetheless, there is ample scope for the crisis in Ukraine, in particular, to undermine sentiment further in the coming weeks."
Meanwhile, over in the US, the University of Michigan's preliminary reading on consumer confidence slipped to 79.9 in March, from 81.6 in the month before. The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 82.
In other news, producer prices fell by 0.1% month-on-month in February after a rise of 0.2% in the month before (consensus: 0.2%).
UK construction output bounces back further in January
UK construction output grew by 1.8% month-on-month to reach £170m in January and 5.4% over the year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
That follows a 2% monthly increase in December and shows that the surprise 4.1% fall seen in November was just a "temporary blip", Dr Howard Archer, Chief UK+European economist at IHS Global Insight said.
UK trade deficit widens by more than expected in January
The British trade deficit in January widened by more than economists expected, casting further doubt over UK government efforts to re-balance the country's economy.
The deficit on goods and services rose to an estimated £2.6bn in January, against a deficit of £700m in December, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Economist Samuel Tombs at Capital Economics said January's deficit of £2.6bn was bigger than the fourth quarter's average of £1.8bn and 2013's average of £2.2bn, which he said signalled there was still no underlying improvement in the UK's trade position.
In other macro news, the Bank of England (BoE) today noted that some of its market contacts see a risk of the pound falling due to the UK's current account deficit.
In the BoE's Quarterly Bulletin, the central bank said: "Some commentators suggested that there was a risk of sterling depreciation due to the UK's sizeable current account deficit.
"The views of contacts on this were mixed. Some believed that market participants typically do not enter speculative trades on the basis of developed-economy current account positions, while others thought that markets had begun to look at such data more closely."
Supermarkets recover after Morrison-inspired sell-off
Supermarket chains J Sainsbury and Tesco were bouncing back from Thursday's losses which came after disappointing profit guidance and a shake-up at sector peer WM Morrison, which reignited concerns about the rising threat from discount grocery chains.
A jump in the price of gold to a six-month high helped push Fresnillo and Randgold into positive territory today. The climb was being driven by events in Ukraine, as tension mounted over its between the troubled country and neighbouring Russia.
IMI also gained after Societe Generale increased its target price from 1,530p to 1,690p, whilst upgrading the stock to 'buy'.
Meanwhile, IAG was in the red following the news it had agreed a pay deal with ground staff at its Spanish arm, Iberia, whereby pay will be cut by 7% and frozen until 2015. The company also announced that an additional 4% pay reduction will be eliminated once productivity measures are implemented.
On the second tier, Spirent Communications was higher on reports it has launched a new piece of technology which is used to address the ultra-high bandwidth requirements of modern communication networks.
Ocado continued to fall following this week's disappointing results, which came on the back of a poor set of full-year figures from partner Morrison.
Shares of Boohoo.com were trading at 73.5p towards the end of the day following their stock market debut, well above their initial offer price of 50p, valuing the online fashion retailer at £807m.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Fresnillo (FRES) 925.50p +2.89%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 313.60p +2.85%
IMI (IMI) 1,456.00p +2.75%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,033.00p +2.28%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 635.00p +1.76%
Tesco (TSCO) 303.70p +1.66%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 927.50p +1.42%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 208.00p +1.36%
Experian (EXPN) 1,045.00p +1.26%
SABMiller (SAB) 2,803.00p +0.86%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 365.00p -3.11%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 421.30p -2.68%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 297.00p -2.53%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,433.00p -2.45%
BT Group (BT.A) 389.00p -2.24%
Prudential (PRU) 1,346.00p -2.04%
Barclays (BARC) 231.15p -1.91%
Aviva (AV.) 507.00p -1.74%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,294.00p -1.67%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 3,913.00p -1.66%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Rank Group (RNK) 144.00p +7.87%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 100.50p +3.50%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 13.60p +3.42%
Savills (SVS) 604.00p +3.34%
esure Group (ESUR) 273.30p +2.94%
Hansteen Holdings (HSTN) 108.00p +2.86%
Hellermanntyton Group (HTY) 324.50p +2.53%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,843.00p +2.33%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 2,642.00p +2.21%
Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (JLT) 1,066.00p +2.21%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,193.00p -7.27%
Pace (PIC) 460.10p -4.84%
Man Group (EMG) 101.70p -4.06%
Greencore Group (GNC) 267.60p -3.98%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 483.60p -3.76%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 208.40p -3.25%
ICAP (IAP) 391.30p -3.24%
Close Brothers Group (CBG) 1,407.00p -2.90%
Regus (RGU) 215.50p -2.84%
Evraz (EVR) 54.40p -2.60%