After fluctuating between gains and losses for most of the day, the FTSE 100 finished broadly flat on Friday as stocks struggled for direction.
In the absence of economic news and ongoing political uncertainty in the States, markets remain in "wait-and-see mode", according Senior Market Analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets.
The FTSE 100 finished just 4.84 points higher at 6,453.88, but finished down 58.78 points on the week (a fall of 0.9%).
Since the partial shutdown of the US government has extended into its fourth day, governmental agencies and departments will not be releasing economic data as scheduled, while politicians continue to wrangle over the budget and the crucial debt ceiling limit.
Hewson said: "In the absence of today's scheduled US employment report with little in the way of meaningful trading volumes going through, traders chose to start their weekends early."
Markets are hoping that Congress will agree to raise the $16.7tn debt limit by the October 17th deadline to prevent the US government defaulting on its obligations, something that the Treasury Department said could have a "catastrophic effect" on all aspects of the US economy. It said in a report on Thursday that a default could lead to "events of the magnitude of late 2008 or worse".
Meanwhile, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde said failure to raise the debt ceiling would do damage to the global economy: "The government shutdown is bad enough, but failure to raise the debt ceiling would be far worse, and could very seriously damage not only the US economy, but the entire global economy."
Comments from House Speaker John Boehner continue to be in focus after he said he would not allow a default and would consider using a combination of Republican and Democratic votes to lift the debt ceiling if needed. Speaking today he called for both sides to "sit down" and negotiate, saying "this isn't some damn game".
"I don't believe we should default on our debt [...] If we are going to raise the amount of money we can borrow, we ought to do something about our spending problem and lack of economic growth."
FTSE 100: Standard Life gains on JPMorgan comments
Financials were performing relatively well today with insurance giant Standard Life leading the risers following comments from JP Morgan, which said that the group will benefit from "UK operational leverage, growth potential in Standard Life Investments and a secure dividend". Analyst Ashik Musaddi said he expected the firm's £300m special dividend - announced at the time of the full-year results in March - to be brought forward.
Prudential and Resolution were also edging higher, along with banking groups HSBC and RBS. Emerging market-focused Standard Chartered however was in the red after receiving a ratings downgrade from Numis last night.
Barclays also fell despite a ratings upgrade by Investec from 'add' to 'buy'. The copmany today announced it had received valid acceptances in respect of over 3bn of the new discounted shares
offered to shareholders (around 95%) for its £5.8bn rights issue. Bookrunners who have underwritten the offer will sell the remaining 173m shares today.
Sweeteners and food ingredients group Tate & Lyle was in demand despite a mixed second- quarter update. The company said that adjusted operating profits in the second quarter were slightly below last year due to softness in the US beverage sector but it still maintained its guidance for "another year of profitable growth" in the 12 months to March 2014.
Shares in GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) edged lower after US pharmaceuticals peer Eli Lilly warned on its 2014 revenue target due to "challenging" market conditions and foreign-exchange effects in Japan and the emerging markets. Panmure Gordon said Glaxo is the most exposed to Japan (among the companies its covers) which accounted for some 8.4% of its revenues in 2012.
Kingfisher, the DIY retailer which owns the B&Q and Screwfix brands in the UK, was out of favour and continues to be under heavy selling pressure since the release of its interim results on September 11th. The firm reported a 0.8% in like-for-like sales in the first half (at constant currency) and a 1.6% drop in adjusted pre-tax profits. Since then, the stock was fallen by around 12%.
FTSE 250: Carpetright sinks on CEO exit, profit warning
Shares in carpet and curtains retailer Carpetright plunged this morning after announcing the departure of Chief Executive Darren Shapland as it warned falling sales meant full-year profits would be "significantly" below its previous expectations. Carpetright reported that underlying sales in the UK were down 2.5% in the 10 weeks ending September 29th and had fallen 7.6% in the rest of Europe in local currency terms.
Retail peers Dixons and Home Retail however were on the rise after UBS upgraded its ratings for both stocks from 'neutral' to 'buy' and hiked target prices. In a review of the UK retail sector, the bank said that it foresees a re-rating "as real wage pressure abates, employment recovers further and the big debt paydown subsides".
FTSE 100 - Risers
Standard Life (SL.) 354.10p +2.52%
GKN (GKN) 352.90p +2.44%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 373.20p +1.77%
ITV (ITV) 178.50p +1.71%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,061.00p +1.53%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,491.00p +1.26%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 677.30p +1.17%
CRH (CRH) 1,483.00p +1.16%
Reed Elsevier (REL) 835.00p +1.15%
Pearson (PSON) 1,239.00p +1.06%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Kingfisher (KGF) 369.00p -2.89%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,442.00p -2.50%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,380.00p -1.50%
Sage Group (SGE) 329.00p -1.47%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,445.00p -1.40%
William Hill (WMH) 407.80p -1.26%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,077.00p -1.10%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 494.00p -1.04%
Wolseley (WOS) 3,164.00p -1.00%
Next (NXT) 5,090.00p -0.97%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 420.90p +4.44%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 1,998.00p +3.68%
Greggs (GRG) 428.00p +2.86%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 29.00p +2.51%
Regus (RGU) 195.70p +2.35%
WH Smith (SMWH) 853.00p +2.22%
Paragon Group Of Companies (PAG) 326.00p +2.10%
Kier Group (KIE) 1,707.00p +2.03%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 171.00p +1.97%
Greencore Group (GNC) 153.80p +1.92%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Carpetright (CPR) 616.50p -8.46%
Alent (ALNT) 325.00p -4.72%
Computacenter (CCC) 520.50p -3.34%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 3,896.00p -3.21%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 435.90p -3.13%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,048.00p -2.69%
Soco International (SIA) 406.00p -2.64%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 275.00p -2.34%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 147.50p -2.32%
Aveva Group (AVV) 2,551.00p -2.26%