Markets were showing moderate losses on Friday morning, pulling back after yesterday's strong gains as concerns about a potential Western military strike in Syria eased slightly.
Worries about an imminent intervention in Syria receded yesterday after UK Prime Minister David Cameron lost an initial vote to take military action. Oppositions decided against the move until they see firm evidence from UN inspectors of the use of chemical weapons by the Bashar al-Assad regime. There will be a further parliamentary vote next week.
The hesitance by America's main ally complicates things further for US President Barack Obama who has assured that the Syrian government will be held accountable for last week's deadly attacks. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel meanwhile has said that the US will not act without allies.
"Unless the US now carries the strikes out alone, which is still a possibility, any action is going to be delayed until sufficient evidence can be found linking the use of chemical weapons to Assad," said Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari.
"That said, I expect investors to err on the side of caution on Friday, as any escalation over the weekend would undoubtedly have a major impact on the markets when they reopen next week. "
Cautiousness ahead of a three-day weekend in the States was also said to be having an effect on risk appetite this morning with US markets closed on Monday for Labour Day.
An upwardly-revised estimate of second-quarter economic growth in the States helped push stocks higher on Thursday as confidence in the recovery offset the increased likelihood that the Federal Reserve will taper asset purchases in September. Jobless claims also came in better than forecasts.
US data will again be in focus on Friday with a number of important economic indicators due for release, including personal income and spending figures, the Chicago purchasing managers' index and the University of Michigan consumer confidence report.
G4S gains after JPMorgan comments
Security solutions group G4S was extending gains made earlier this week when it announced plans to sell assets to reduce its debt pile and issue new shares
to help strengthen its balance sheet. JPMorgan Cazenove kept an 'overweight' rating on the stock saying that there could be upside to current forecasts on the back of the company's revenue growth potential and new business opportunities.
Outsourcing giant Serco was rebounding after a heavy fall yesterday after confirming that it is under investigation because of a "misreporting of data" in connection with it prisoner escort contract with the Ministry of Justice. Shares dropped 11% the day before after it said it would forgo any past and future profits on the £285m contract.
Burberry was near the top of the leaderboard on positive readacross in the aftermath of better-than-expected interim earnings figures out from French luxury peer Hermes.
Chip designer ARM Holdings was higher this morning after Deutsche Bank upgraded the stock to 'buy' and more than doubled its target price, saying that fears of competition from Intel have been overdone.
Telecoms giant Vodafone was extending gains after yesterday's impressive rise following the confirmation that it is in talks about selling its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to US partner Verizon. The sale could generate up to $130bn for the UK group, reports have suggested.
Mining group Anglo American was lower on reports that it could close or sell off mines at Anglo Platinum (Amplats) if the division doesn't see improving profits next year. Meanwhile, Rio Tinto was down on concerns over delays to its Simandou iron ore project in Guinea.
Online gaming company bwin.party was a heavy faller on the FTSE 250 after it reported a slump in half-year revenue reflecting operational issues associated with the "dotcom migration" to a single technology platform. The firm also failed to impress with its full-year guidance.
FTSE 100 - Risers
G4S (GFS) 258.60p +2.82%
Serco Group (SRP) 549.50p +2.04%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 208.40p +1.78%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,340.00p +1.44%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 483.00p +1.26%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,548.00p +1.18%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,115.00p +1.18%
Hammerson (HMSO) 488.50p +0.64%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,635.00p +0.62%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 892.50p +0.51%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Centrica (CNA) 384.20p -2.16%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,394.00p -2.04%
Aviva (AV.) 389.50p -1.86%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,238.00p -1.67%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 288.20p -1.44%
WPP (WPP) 1,210.00p -1.39%
GKN (GKN) 331.20p -1.37%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 334.90p -1.27%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 1,820.00p -1.25%
Whitbread (WTB) 3,105.00p -1.18%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 325.30p +3.60%
Polymetal International (POLY) 751.50p +2.87%
Fenner (FENR) 348.00p +2.44%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 791.00p +2.39%
BH Global Ltd. USD Shares (BHGU) 11.8 +2.16%
Carpetright (CPR) 665.00p +2.07%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 1,780.00p +1.95%
JPMorgan Indian Inv Trust (JII) 294.00p +1.73%
Hansteen Holdings (HSTN) 100.00p +1.52%
Bovis Homes Group (BVS) 758.00p +1.47%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 108.00p -15.16%
Evraz (EVR) 128.40p -4.18%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 246.30p -3.75%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 127.80p -3.26%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 259.00p -3.03%
Inchcape (INCH) 584.00p -2.91%
F&C Asset Management (FCAM) 97.15p -2.75%
Stagecoach Group (SGC) 319.20p -2.62%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 713.50p -2.59%
Salamander Energy (SMDR) 129.00p -2.35%