- FTSE closes down 76 points
- Ukraine continues to dent confidence
- Copper prices hit by China worries
techMARK 2,859.92 -0.95%
FTSE 100 6,712.67 -1.12%
FTSE 250 16,559.45 -0.67%
UK stocks ended the week on a sour note, dragged lower by concerns surrounding Ukraine and Russia, together with falling copper prices and a dearth of company releases from the City's biggest players.
As a result, the top tier index closed down 75.82 points on the day, and 97.03 on the week, at 6,712.67.
Russian President Vladimir Putin today disregarded a warning from US President Barack Obama over Moscow's military intervention. Following a phone call with Obama, Putin released a statement saying Russia could not ignore calls for help from Russian citizens in Ukraine.
Russia now has an estimated 30,000 troops in Ukraine's Crimea region, Ukrainian border guards told Reuters. That compares to 11,000 permanently based with the Russian Black Sea fleet in the port of Sevastopol before the crisis.
Moscow has said it will "not accept the language of sanctions and threats" after the European Union and US told Russia of the repercussions on Thursday.
Chris Beauchamp, Market Analyst at IG, said: "Memories of last week, when no one even dreamed of the possibility of a Russian intervention into Ukraine, are driving markets.
"It seems a further stand off is developing, with the west edging tentatively towards sanctions and the Ukrainian government denouncing the planned Crimean referendum. However, the wily Russian president still holds the strongest hand, with his ace being the 30,000 Russian troops now reputed to be on the ground in the Crimea."
Meanwhile, the US non-farm payrolls report showed jobs increased by 175,000 in February, compared with a revised 129,000 a month earlier, surprising analysts who had predicted 150,000. Revisions to the previous two months of data added a further 25,000 jobs.
The jobless rate increased to 6.7% from 6.6% although this largely reflected a rise in the labour force.
Senior US Economist Paul Dales from Capital Economics said that the data "pretty much guarantees that the Fed will taper its asset purchases further at the mid-March meeting, especially as payrolls would have been stronger if it wasn't for the unusually severe weather".
Copper prices hit by China worries
Fears over a decline in the rate of growth in China prompted copper futures to register their biggest decline in more than two years today. China, which is the biggest industrial metal consumer in the world, has issued a raft of negative data in recent times. It was reported today that the country's first company had defaulted on a mainland-traded bond.
Beauchamp added: "Non-farm payrolls euphoria wore off quickly this afternoon in London, as gains made in the wake of the US employment number were quickly given back. It appears that no one wants to be particularly long heading into the weekend, with the risk of another development in the Ukraine crisis still an eminent possibility.
"The mining sector was given a hefty push lower as falling copper prices and a corporate bond default in China put the wind up investors. The news raises the uncomfortable prospect of more companies potentially following suit, which would have nasty effects on mining companies as growth slows in the world's second largest economy."
UK inflation expectations fall, rise in Bank rate expected earlier
The median expectation for inflation over the coming year in the UK fell to 2.8% in February from 3.6% in November, according to the Bank of England/GfK's latest quarterly Inflation Attitudes Survey.
In terms of how they see inflation behaving in the 12 months after that, respondents predicted a 2.8% rate of increase in prices, down from 3.6% in November.
In other UK news, a survey showed UK permanent job placements rose at the fastest pace in almost four years in February.
A monthly index measuring permanent job placements from consultancy KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation climbed to 65.2 in February, its highest level since March 2010, compared with 62.1 in January.
Quiet day for company news
G4S moved higher, ahead of the release of the scandal-hit security giant's annual results on Wednesday. Investors will be looking for a more positive outlook with a clear strategy in place after what is set to be a disappointing set of figures for 2013.
Meanwhile, mining groups Fresnillo, Antofagasta, Anglo American and Randgold were registering losses today, tracking metals prices lower, apparently on worries that the first onshore bond default in China would weigh on the price of copper as it is often used as collateral for loans.
Telecoms firm Vodafone was also down after Bank of America Merrill Lynch reportedly removed the stock from its 'Europe 1' list. Sentiment in the sector was also dampened after Telecom Italia scrapped its dividend as it reported a full-year net loss of €674m.
Burberry was a heavy faller as it looks set to record its biggest three-day drop in over a month on the back of concerns about the potential impact of sanctions that have been imposed by the US and the EU on Russia as a result of the Ukraine crisis.
FTSE 100 - Risers
G4S (GFS) 243.90p +3.57%
Pearson (PSON) 1,054.00p +2.03%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,405.00p +1.96%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 237.20p +1.54%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 822.00p +1.17%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,385.00p +1.09%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,873.00p +0.97%
ITV (ITV) 200.50p +0.96%
Aviva (AV.) 508.50p +0.89%
Carnival (CCL) 2,396.00p +0.88%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Anglo American (AAL) 1,462.50p -6.55%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 324.85p -4.44%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 877.00p -4.15%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,880.00p -3.65%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 238.65p -3.50%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,200.00p -3.34%
CRH (CRH) 1,695.00p -2.81%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 381.50p -2.20%
Fresnillo (FRES) 927.50p -2.16%
Experian (EXPN) 1,046.00p -2.15%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Shaftesbury (SHB) 650.00p +3.34%
BH Global Ltd. USD Shares (BHGU) 12 +3.27%
Ted Baker (TED) 2,152.00p +2.97%
Greencore Group (GNC) 301.00p +2.73%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 16.00p +2.56%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,394.00p +2.50%
Serco Group (SRP) 482.50p +2.49%
Countrywide (CWD) 682.50p +2.40%
esure Group (ESUR) 270.70p +2.00%
Hunting (HTG) 891.50p +1.89%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 298.60p -6.69%
ITE Group (ITE) 234.00p -4.88%
Keller Group (KLR) 1,075.00p -4.53%
Polymetal International (POLY) 565.00p -4.40%
Carillion (CLLN) 366.80p -4.20%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 173.10p -3.83%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 72.25p -3.67%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 862.50p -3.36%
Foxtons Group (FOXT) 374.10p -3.23%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 141.60p -3.21%