- FTSE closes down 24.68 points at 6,814.57
- Permanent salaries grow at quickest since 2007
- Petrofac slumps
- NIESR ups UK growth forecasts
techMARK 2,782.32 -0.89%
FTSE 100 6,814.57 -0.36%
FTSE 250 15,885.21 -0.52%
UK stocks ended the final session of the week in the red, weighed by Petrofac and a negative start to the day's trading over in the US.
Investors may also have been moved by the desire to book profits ahead of this weekend´s independence referendum in Donetsk, Ukraine.
The FTSE 100 ended 24.68 points lower at 6,814.57.
Brenda Kelly, Chief Market Strategist at IG, described today's performance on the Footsie as "stalled", saying "each time we go towards 6,850 the buyers dry up and the index finds itself unable to get any further".
"Perhaps it's because it's a Friday, or due to Ukraine worries, or some poor earnings, but the result is that this is an index without a clear direction," she added.
Petrofac was certainly providing a significant drag, losing 15.2% after after the company warned on profits, saying its bottom line in 2014 is likely to weaken due to lower-than-expected earnings from its IES division. The company, which had previous guided to 'flat to modest growth' in net profit this year, now expects a decline of as much as 10.7%.
Permanent salaries grow at their quickest since 2007
The losses amongst the wider market came despite some fairly upbeat macro news, which included predicted figures from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) that the economy will grow by 2.9% this year and 2.4% in 2015.
The forecasts, put forward in the organisation's latest quarterly economic review, mark a higher pace of growth than those given in January and, if correct, will mean that gross domestic product (GDP) will surpass its 2008 peak within the next few months. Previous predictions were for 2.5% growth in 2014 and 2.1% in 2015.
Meanwhile, UK industrial production slipped by 0.1% month-over-month in March, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Manufacturing output, on the other hand, rose by 0.5% over the month (consensus: 0.3%).
To take note of, in its latest survey the Recruitment and Employment Confederation found that growth of permanent salaries accelerated further in April, at its most marked pace since July 2007. That shows that nominal pay is on the cusp of a strong recovery, Charles Stanley said.
MPC member Ian McCafferty called attention to the importance of such surveys in a recent speech.
Benchmark Irish 10-year yields dropped two basis points to 2.66% this afternoon having hit a record low of 2.64% earlier on. That put them below those on similarly dated Gilts for the first time in five years.
The Bank of England will release its latest Inflation Report next Wednesday.
US stocks extend yesterday's losses
Looking abroad, stocks in the US were broadly lower, extending yesterday's losses, with Apple heading south on reports it is planning to acquire Beats Electronic for around $3.2bn.
Investors were also digesting the latest geopolitical developments as Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Crimea region for the first time since its annexation in March, while heavy fighting continues in the eastern regions of Ukraine.
IAG flies lower despite narrowing losses
Following Petrofac lower, British Airways- and Iberia-owner IAG, which had flown higher early on, dropped lower this afternoon despite saying it had narrowed operating losses in the first quarter, helped by higher revenue and reduced fuel costs. Sector peer easyJet was also in the red.
AstraZeneca was also a notable faller as investors try to predict the outcome of Pfizer's takeover plans. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg today said the British government must be sure that any commitments put forward by Pfizer are binding.
Meanwhile, department stores Marks & Spencer and Debenhams were trading higher this afternoon as high street peer John Lewis reported 14.5% annual sales growth in the week to May 3rd.
Credit Suisse drove Intertek Group higher after upping its broker rating to 'outperform' from 'neutral' and raised its target price from 3,200p to 3,500p.
Deutsche Bank upped its target price on Anglo American from 1,510p to 1,550p, helping the stock rise into the top five by last in today's session.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 458.40p +2.00%
Pearson (PSON) 1,137.00p +1.70%
TUI Travel (TT.) 444.50p +1.51%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 335.80p +1.39%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 3,027.00p +1.37%
Rexam (REX) 502.50p +1.13%
National Grid (NG.) 855.00p +1.12%
Diageo (DGE) 1,850.50p +1.09%
Unilever (ULVR) 2,639.00p +1.03%
Compass Group (CPG) 971.50p +0.99%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,177.00p -15.20%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 385.00p -4.84%
Shire Plc (SHP) 3,309.00p -2.68%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,600.50p -2.39%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 768.50p -1.91%
St James's Place (STJ) 786.50p -1.87%
Prudential (PRU) 1,369.00p -1.76%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,685.00p -1.75%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 325.20p -1.75%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 886.00p -1.72%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Genus (GNS) 1,085.00p +3.33%
Debenhams (DEB) 81.60p +2.00%
esure Group (ESUR) 255.00p +1.80%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 142.50p +1.79%
Greencore Group (GNC) 264.50p +1.73%
Perform Group (PER) 253.30p +1.32%
IP Group (IPO) 179.00p +1.30%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 180.40p +1.29%
Keller Group (KLR) 987.00p +1.23%
Dignity (DTY) 1,430.00p +1.13%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 297.20p -5.86%
Supergroup (SGP) 1,125.00p -4.58%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 770.00p -4.47%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,261.00p -3.89%
Soco International (SIA) 435.00p -3.55%
Infinis Energy (INFI) 208.60p -3.38%
Grainger (GRI) 216.40p -3.35%
ICAP (IAP) 387.70p -3.20%
Man Group (EMG) 97.60p -3.08%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,592.00p -3.03%