- Chinese manufacturing in contraction
- Data from US comes in mixed
- Pearson, easyJet, Petrofac and ARM fall
techMARK 2,827.81 -0.71%
FTSE 100 6,773.28 -0.78%
FTSE 250 15,980.13 -1.03%
Mixed economic figures from across the globe weighed heavily on stocks on Thursday, with UK markets retreating after coming close to eight-month highs earlier in the week.
Meanwhile, steep falls from heavyweights Pearson, easyJet, Petrofac and ARM Holdings were also providing a drag in London.
The FTSE 100 finished 53.05 points lower at 6,773.28. The index has struggled to finish above the 2013 closing high of 6,840 set in May, having traded broadly sideways for the past three days.
Things got off to a poor start this morning after a flash reading of the HSBC/Markit purchasing managers index (PMI) for Chinese manufacturing showed that the sector unexpectedly contracted in January. The PMI fell from 50.5 to a six-month low of 49.6 this month, disappointing analysts who had expected a smaller decline to 50.4.
Investors largely shrugged off PMI figures from the Eurozone which came in ahead of expectations - the composite PMI rose from 52.1 to 53.2, ahead of the 52.5 forecast.
However, losses accelerated in afternoon trade in London after a series of disappointing US economic figures, which prompted heavy falls on Wall Street after the opening bell with the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffering triple-digit losses.
The Markit US manufacturing PMI, Leading Indicators Index, House Price Index and existing-home sales all failed to hit forecasts, offset partly by a less-than-expected rise in jobless claims.
Pearson drops after weaker-than-expected 2013
Publishing and education company Pearson sunk sharply after admitting that its trading and financial performance for 2013 was "weaker than expected", particularly in North America, as it reported earnings slightly below analysts forecasts. The Financial Times owner also gave a cautious outlook for 2014, saying that trading conditions were "still challenging" in the current quarter.
Budget airline easyJet fell after guiding to a £70-90m pre-tax loss for the six months to March 31st, down from a £61m loss for the first half the previous year, due to the timing of Easter.
Oilfield services group Petrofac finished with steep losses after its Chief Executive Ayman Asfari warned that the oil industry is "facing a huge amount of cost pressure".
Microprocessor firm ARM Holdings was also a heavy faller, extending its recent decline. The stock has now dropped over 12% since the end of December. Sector peer Imagination Technologies also fell as the stock paused after an impressive 25% run over the last month.
Leading the upside were precious metal producers Fresnillo, Randgold and African Barrick Gold as the prices of silver and gold advanced.
High Street giant M&S gained after Exane BNP Paribas upgraded the stock by two notches from 'underperform' to 'outperform' on the back of the retailer's turnaround. With the valuation near 10-year lows, the broker said that "now is the time to look beyond recent troubles".
In contrast, supermarket stocks were under the weather with Tesco, Sainsbury and Morrison all trading in the red after gloomy comments from JPMorgan Cazenove which kept 'underweight' positions on all three names.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Fresnillo (FRES) 780.00p +3.38%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 493.20p +2.56%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,188.00p +1.63%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 896.00p +1.07%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 1,424.00p +1.06%
Sage Group (SGE) 431.40p +1.05%
Mondi (MNDI) 979.00p +1.03%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,380.50p +1.02%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 317.70p +0.76%
BAE Systems (BA.) 437.20p +0.74%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Pearson (PSON) 1,191.00p -8.24%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,672.00p -4.07%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,203.00p -3.14%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 973.00p -3.09%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,674.00p -2.96%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,420.00p -2.74%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,204.00p -2.43%
Old Mutual (OML) 187.80p -2.39%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 427.40p -2.20%
Standard Life (SL.) 381.70p -2.15%
FTSE 250 - Risers
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 222.40p +11.48%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 19.07p +5.30%
Polymetal International (POLY) 586.00p +4.92%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 124.70p +1.80%
Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (JLT) 1,078.00p +1.70%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,134.00p +1.25%
Electra Private Equity (ELTA) 2,399.00p +1.10%
3i Infrastructure (3IN) 135.00p +1.05%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,970.00p +0.82%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 614.00p +0.74%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 193.00p -5.44%
Afren (AFR) 154.60p -4.57%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 115.80p -4.30%
Foxtons Group (FOXT) 329.70p -4.02%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,725.00p -3.79%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 472.10p -3.59%
esure Group (ESUR) 280.00p -3.45%
Keller Group (KLR) 1,188.00p -3.41%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 175.40p -3.31%
Howden Joinery Group (HWDN) 332.30p -3.23%