The FTSE 100 trimmed losses on Friday afternoon but markets still finished broadly flat as traders scaled back risk appetite ahead of the weekend with the focus now turning to the Federal Reserve meeting next week.
London's benchmark index closed down just 5.18 points at 6,583.80, pulling back slightly after hitting a one-month high on Thursday.
"Global markets were lifeless today as a raft of potential problems, including ambiguity over a solution to the Syrian conflict as well as fears that the Fed will begin reducing its stimulus measures at the end of its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday, resulted in investors stay on the side lines today," said Financial Trader Shavaz Dhalla from Spreadex.
Data from the States was in focus this afternoon as markets gear up for the all-important Federal Open Market Committee two-day meeting which concludes next Wednesday.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary reading of its consumer sentiment index fell to 76.8 in September from 82.1 in August, its lowest reading since April. Separately, the Commerce Department revealed that the rate of growth in US retail sales slowed in August to a 0.2% increase from a 0.4% rise in July. The was the smallest rise in four months.
Economic figures have been mixed over the last week with analysts having to digest worse-than-expected non-farm payrolls in August as well as a fall in jobless claims to a seven-year low, meaning that the Fed decision on whether or not to taper stimulus still remains up in the air.
Brenda Kelly, Senior Market Strategist at IG said that falls this morning may also have been fuelled by rumours that former Treasury Secretary and well-known hawk Larry Summers will succeed Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in January.
Syria meanwhile continues to be closely watched as the US and Russia continued their talks in Geneva over a plan to have Bashar al-Assad hand over chemical weapons to international control in exchange for avoiding US military action.
FTSE 100: Reckitt, ITV and Tate gain on improved outlooks
Consumer products group Reckitt Benckiser rallied after its Chief Executive Officer Rakesh Kapoor said the company would be a major player in a coming pick-up of the consumer health industry.
Terrestrial broadcaster ITV was high riser after Nomura raised its target price from 170p to 200p and reiterated a 'buy' rating for the stock. The broker said that a continuing improvement in the UK economic outlook prompted it to raise its advertising forecasts for 2013 and 2014.
Sweeteners manufacturer Tate & Lyle jumped after analysts at Berenberg said fears about falling sucralose prices were overdone.
Falling gold, silver and copper prices hit mining stocks today. Gold and silver in particular looked set to register their worst weekly drops since June. Anglo American, Vedanta, BHP Billiton, Antofagasta and Rio Tinto were all suffering losses by the close of trade.
Glencore Xstrata was also lower after announcing a revised scope for its Zanaga iron ore project with a changed budget and efforts to finance work. The company said the project feasibility study is now being advanced on the basis of a staged development, substantially reducing the initial capital requirement and including the potential for initial production using existing infrastructure.
Vodafone edged higher after winning enough shareholder support for its €7.7bn takeover of German cable company Kabel Deutschland (KDH) to go ahead. The British mobile network giant has received the backing of more than 75% of Kabel shareholders.
FTSE 250: Imagination rises on licence deal
Imagination Technologies has signed a new licence agreement with MediaTek, a semiconductor company for wireless communications and digital multimedia, causing shares
to jump on friday. Under the multi-year agreement, MediaTek will continue to deliver products to the group's PowerVR Series6 division including graphical features such as OpenGL ES 3.0 support, while maintaining the low-power profile essential to mobile devices. MediaTek will be given access to graphics technology.
Utilities group Pennon was out of favour after Credit Suisse downgraded the stock to 'underperform', saying it is increasingly concerned that pricing pressure could materialise on energy-from-waste (EfW) facilities at its waste-management business Viridor.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,554.00p +2.29%
ITV (ITV) 183.40p +2.12%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 922.00p +1.49%
British Land Co (BLND) 582.50p +1.48%
Capita (CPI) 1,003.00p +1.47%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 793.00p +1.34%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 123.10p +1.15%
Serco Group (SRP) 574.50p +1.14%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 511.50p +1.09%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 1,203.00p +1.09%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Anglo American (AAL) 1,568.50p -3.21%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 295.30p -2.38%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,885.00p -1.98%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 807.00p -1.94%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,160.00p -1.86%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 849.50p -1.68%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,300.00p -1.59%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,390.00p -1.56%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 972.00p -1.47%
Barclays (BARC) 301.60p -1.41%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 339.70p +10.51%
Fenner (FENR) 407.40p +5.19%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 330.90p +5.05%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 115.00p +4.64%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 337.20p +3.75%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 257.50p +3.41%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 278.10p +3.00%
Bodycote (BOY) 680.50p +2.79%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 652.50p +2.76%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 752.00p +2.31%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Pennon Group (PNN) 699.50p -3.72%
Polymetal International (POLY) 709.50p -3.47%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 27.50p -2.55%
Lonmin (LMI) 335.10p -2.45%
esure Group (ESUR) 227.70p -2.27%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 164.20p -2.03%
Diploma (DPLM) 633.00p -2.01%
Dairy Crest Group (DCG) 483.40p -1.99%
AZ Electronic Materials SA (DI) (AZEM) 311.00p -1.89%
ICAP (IAP) 405.80p -1.81%