Meetings in the Eurozone and a relatively quiet day on the corporate earnings calendar meant that the UK stock market was trading firmly in the red on Friday morning as traders booked profits after recent gains.
The S&P 500
in New York finished just a couple of point shy of its all-time high on Thursday night as data on US jobs continued to improve.
Jobless claims came in below forecasts again yesterday which, after last month's stellar employment report, brightens the outlook for the recovery in the American labour market. However, the recent improving data has increased fears that the Federal Reserve could choose to scale back its quantitative easing (QE) programme before the end of the year.
Consumer price index data is due out in the States in the coming hours which is expected to show a big jump in inflation in February. Also out later on are industrial production figures and the University of Michigan consumer confidence survey.
Investors focus on EU summit
This side of the Pond, EU leaders yesterday indicated that they will relax the conditions relating to deficit targets. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso expressed the idea that countries completing the requirements should be given a helping-hand.
French President François Hollande said: "if there is too much austerity, there will be too much unemployment. Flexibility is necessary if we want to make growth the priority."
As for today, EU leaders are expected to discuss a possible exit of Ireland from the bailout programme after a successful 10-year debt auction earlier this week.
Meanwhile, the Eurogroup, made of Eurozone finance ministers, is scheduled to meet later today to discuss the aid package for Cyprus. Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem indicated this week that the financial assistance should be closer to €10bn than the €17bn originally discussed.
"As always with these meetings, we can expect heightened volatility throughout the day, as details surrounding both the Irish and Cypriot bailouts are leaked out," said Market Analyst Craid Erlam said.
FTSE 100:IAG, Aggreko and ARM rise after broker upgrades
Airline group IAG was performing well this morning after Morgan Stanley upgraded its recommendation on the stock to 'overweight', while Aggreko received a boost by Deutsche Bank, which upped to shares
Chip designer ARM Holdings was also higher after Jefferies upgraded the stock from 'hold' to 'buy', saying that the business looks well-positioned for the mid-to-long term.
In contrast, oil titan Royal Dutch Shell was being weighed down by a ratings cut by JPMorgan Cazenove to 'underweight'. Supermarket group Morrison was weighed down by Credit Suisse which trimmed its forecasts, citing a weak LFL figure in the fourth quarter.
Mining firm Rio Tinto was making gains after Mongolia said that production at the company's Oyu Tolgoi mine is to start in June, despite disagreements over the future of the world's largest untapped copper deposit as the mine looks set to increase output.
FTSE 250:Rentokil surges as profits rise; bwin.party disappoints
Pest control and hygiene giant Rentokil Initial jumped over 10% after it revealed robust 2012 results, beating analyst expectations. Adjusted pre-tax profits came to £191m, a 10.1% year-on-year rise.
Online gaming firm bwin.party slumped after reporting a 17% fall in clean EBITDA in 2012 owing to an increase in gaming taxes and lower sales. The firm also said that the revenues are expected to decline further in 2013.
Pubs group Wetherspoons rose after unveiling a 6.9% rise in like-for-like revenue in the first half. The company called the performance "reasonable" given the pressures on the UK consumer.
Halma, the safety, health and environmental technology group, edged higher after acquiring ASL Holdings, a Northampton-based business which designs and manufactures machine-to-machine communication products, for £6.5m.
Also on the rise was chemicals firm Synthomer after raising its dividend by 57% as it was able to register another year of record profits.
FTSE 100 - Risers
ARM Holdings (ARM) 954.00p +3.41%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 270.60p +3.01%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 911.50p +1.84%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,890.50p +1.45%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,988.00p +1.17%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 266.90p +1.10%
Rexam (REX) 525.50p +1.06%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,466.00p +1.02%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 5,570.00p +1.00%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 361.00p +0.84%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 270.10p -2.21%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,221.50p -2.05%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 725.00p -2.03%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,175.50p -1.92%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 824.00p -1.79%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 1,245.00p -1.66%
Polymetal International (POLY) 921.50p -1.65%
Experian (EXPN) 1,168.00p -1.43%
Shire Plc (SHP) 2,038.00p -1.26%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 694.00p -1.21%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 100.10p +10.61%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 57.30p +7.10%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 181.10p +6.53%
Unite Group (UTG) 334.40p +4.66%
Dialight (DIA) 1,400.00p +3.70%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 747.00p +3.68%
Stobart Group Ltd. (STOB) 86.45p +3.04%
Computacenter (CCC) 499.20p +3.01%
Halma (HLMA) 533.00p +3.00%
Menzies(John) (MNZS) 798.00p +2.97%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 141.50p -6.60%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 130.20p -2.47%
Premier Farnell (PFL) 220.60p -2.13%
BH Global Ltd. USD Shares (BHGU) 11.85 -2.07%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 261.20p -1.77%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 501.00p -1.76%
Investec (INVP) 495.20p -1.75%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 143.60p -1.71%
Inmarsat (ISAT) 685.00p -1.58%
Petropavlovsk (POG) 244.40p -1.57%