Friday was a relatively quiet session for equity markets in London with investor confidence shattered after a sell-off the day before and volumes down due to seasonal trends.
The FTSE 100 and benchmark indices on Wall Street suffered steep falls on Thursday as better-than-expected jobless claims ignited concerns that the Federal Reserve will begin to taper its stimulus programme at its next policy meeting.
What ensued was a choppy day in London today with markets rangebound for most of the session until a late, albeit small, rally late on.
"Volumes within the markets remain depressingly thin today as the peak of summer holidays continues to take its toll. Thus, in reality, it is proving especially difficult to analyse the impact of tapering fears as there are only a few traders actually left in the markets," said Financial Trader Shavaz Dhalla from Spreadex.
"It is entirely possible that once traders return from their holidays and inject some life into the markets, then we could see the true reactions to the possibility that the stimulus measures which have been driving optimism for a while are now going to be removed."
While the FTSE 100 managed to close with slight gains on Friday, it still ended the week in the red, its second negative week in succession. London's benchmark index finished today's trading session up 16.65 points at 6,499.99 (last Friday's close: 6,583.39).
FTSE 100: Mining and housing stocks rise
Gold and silver prices cemented recent gains on Friday due to safe-haven demand, pushing shares
prices in the mining sector higher in afternoon trade. Precious metals peers Randgold Resources and Fresnillo were standout performers as gold closed in on a two-month high while silver built on the three-month high reached yesterday.
Sector peers Anglo American, Glencore Xstrata, Vedanta and Antofagastawere also making gains with rumours of a new stimulus package in China doing the rounds this morning.
Even BHP Billiton rose slightly despite the announcement that it could face enforcement action as part of the US regulatory probe linked in part to the hospitality it provided during its sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Housing and construction stocks were also higher today, pulling back after bearing the brunt of the sell-off on Thursday as investors took profits after a recent strong run. According to the Bank of England earlier this week in its monthly agents report, 'Help to Buy' is already boosting demand and leading to higher prices in the UK due to a shortage of available properties, sparking fears that the government scheme could be causing a new housing bubble.
Housebuilder Persimmon and building supplies firm Travis Perkins were recovering today after recent falls.
Insurance group Aviva was in the red after Exane BNP Paribas cut its rating for the stock from 'outperform' to 'neutral', saying it sees limited upside after a recent strong run. Standard Life also finished lower.
Sector peer Prudential however edged higher after Nomura raised its target price and said it remains its top pick in the sector.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Persimmon (PSN) 1,188.00p +8.30%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 5,150.00p +5.32%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,172.00p +4.18%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,547.50p +3.48%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 1,057.00p +2.32%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 308.35p +2.17%
ITV (ITV) 160.00p +2.17%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 76.40p +1.80%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,235.00p +1.73%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,578.00p +1.61%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
BAE Systems (BA.) 437.40p -1.15%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 1,142.00p -1.13%
William Hill (WMH) 422.00p -1.08%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 883.00p -1.01%
Standard Life (SL.) 346.20p -0.94%
TUI Travel (TT.) 359.40p -0.91%
SABMiller (SAB) 3,091.00p -0.88%
Experian (EXPN) 1,193.00p -0.83%
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,333.00p -0.74%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,460.00p -0.65%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Polymetal International (POLY) 783.50p +9.05%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 245.70p +8.72%
Bovis Homes Group (BVS) 778.50p +7.60%
Bellway (BWY) 1,425.00p +6.50%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 108.30p +6.49%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 156.70p +5.88%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 316.50p +5.71%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 2,203.00p +5.61%
AZ Electronic Materials SA (DI) (AZEM) 317.80p +4.71%
Evraz (EVR) 123.10p +4.23%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Anite (AIE) 117.00p -6.92%
JPMorgan Indian Inv Trust (JII) 312.00p -3.50%
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 139.50p -3.33%
F&C Asset Management (FCAM) 105.60p -3.03%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,133.00p -2.33%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 635.00p -1.85%
Savills (SVS) 608.00p -1.70%
Rightmove (RMV) 2,264.00p -1.48%
Pace (PIC) 293.00p -1.45%
IP Group (IPO) 135.90p -1.24%