the FTSE100 ended the session up 0.16% at 7,563.25, after hovering above and below the fold throughout the day, while the FTSE250 was down 0.38% at 22,958.48.
The pound was also struggling for direction, last trading 0.12% stronger against the dollar at $1.3716, as it weakened 0.08% against the euro at 1, €1966.
“Today we took a short break with the FTSE 100 and DAX both mostly in place trading either side of the flatline with a focus on more decent trade updates from the retail sector – although you have to look at the stock price reaction, you would have been forgiven for thinking they weren’t so good, although they could always have been better,” said declared CMC Markets Michael Hewson, Chief Market Analyst.
“It was actually a day of decent quarterly figures for UK retail, not that you know it, with Tesco and Marks and Spencer share prices falling, although that could just be a case where expectations were perhaps a little too high leading into the numbers.
“There are concerns as we head into the final quarter, for both, that cost of living pressures could impact their fourth quarter numbers as spring approaches.”
Across the Atlantic, jobless claims unexpectedly jumped in the United States by seven days to January 8, although they remained low by historical standards and broadly in line with the pre-pandemic average of around 220,000.
According to the US Department of Labor, initial jobless claims totaled 230,000 last week – well ahead of estimates of 200,000 and the previous week’s unrevised total of 207,000.
The four-week moving average, which levels out volatility in the numbers, came in at 211,000, up 6,300 week-on-week, while continuing claims, which are a week behind the overall figure, fell to 1.55m from the revised print of the previous week. 1.75m.
“The number of jobless claims is plagued by seasonal adjustment issues before, during and after the holiday season,” said Macroeconomics Hall of Fame‘ Ian Shepherdson.
“The speed of the decline in claims in November has been flattered by favorable seasons, and the return on investment is evident in recent numbers.
“Seasonal issues will persist for another week or two, after which we expect claims to fall to new cycle lows.”
Shepherdson said the trend was heading south, but not as quickly as data from late last fall seemed to suggest.
On domestic shores, the minimum isolation period in England for people who test positive for Covid-19 was to be reduced to just five days, it revealed in the afternoon.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs the time needed for people to self-isolate after testing positive would be reduced from seven days to five from Monday.
From there, people could test twice, on day five and day six, and if both tests negative they would be free to leave isolation on day six.
In a statement to the House of Commons, Javid said the UK was ‘leading the world in learning to live with Covid’ and ‘with this in mind we have reviewed the period of isolation’.
He continued: “Data from the UK Health Security Agency shows that around two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of day five, and we want to use the testing capacity we have developed to help these people to leave isolation safely.”
In the stock markets, Marks and Spencer group fell 7.91% even after the food and clothing retailer said it expected annual profits of at least £500m after strong Christmas sales, driven by outperformance of its food line.
Fellow reseller Following also lost ground, ending the session down 4.12%.
supermarket chain Tesco fell 0.87% despite higher annual profit forecasts after better-than-expected third-quarter and Christmas sales.
Country properties plunged 20.64% after announcing the departure of its chief executive and saying first-quarter trading fell short of board expectations.
Home builder Khaki slipped 0.5% despite a jump in revenue, along with its peers Barratt Developments, Taylor Wimpey and Berkeley Group also lower by 0.03%, 1.51% and 1.67%, respectively.
On the rise, Wood Group climbed 20.48% after the consulting and engineering firm announced it was selling its built environment division after a review and reported lower core earnings.
LV Group was in the black by 2%, following reports that it was close to agreeing the sale of its sports broadcasting arm to streaming company Dazn in a deal worth an estimated 800 millions of dollars.
According to Reuters, citing four anonymous sources familiar with the matter, the sale of BT Sport to the American specialist in sports streaming could be announced as early as February.
Somewhere else, Hay rose 2.24% after the recruiter said full-year operating profit was expected to beat market expectations after a record second quarter in the second quarter.
Pub group actions Mitchells and butlers rose 0.93% after a well-received trade update.
Home lender Financial foresight gained 4.21% after it said it traded above expectations in the fourth quarter and announced a restructuring of the Vanquis board.
IP group was 3.1% stronger after hailing “another very successful year” and said group profit for 2021 is expected to be over £425m, up from £185.4m in 2020.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,563.85 0.16%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 22,958.48 -0.38%
techMARK (TASX) 4,465.24 -0.58%
FTSE 100 – Risers
Prudential (PRU) 1,337.00p 2.93%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 165.52p 2.72%
Barclays (BARC) 217.10p 2.50%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 513.00p 2.35%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 511.40p 2.16%
Imperial Marks (IMB) 1,695.50p 2.08%
BT Group (BT.A) 178.15p 2.00%
Royal Mail (RMG) 526.20p 1.86%
NATWEST GROUP PLC ORD 100P (NWG) 248.20p 1.80%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 2,974.00p 1.78%
FTSE 100 – Slaughterhouses
JD Sports Mode (JD.) 197.95p -6.41%
Aveva Group (AVV) 2,987.00p -4.89%
Next (NXT) 7,672.00p -4.12%
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 13,900.00p -4.10%
Halma (HLMA) 2,780.00p -3.91%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 4,290.00p -3.90%
Scottish Mortgage Trust (SMT) 1,180.50p -3.20%
Move right (RMV) 725.60p -2.81%
Croda International (CRDA) 8,592.00p -2.76%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,990.50p -2.64%
FTSE 250 – Risers
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 240.00p 20.48%
Financial foresight (PFG) 366.00p 4.21%
Carnival (CCL) 1,522.00p 4.15%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 305.90p 3.59%
IP Group (IPO) 113.20p 3.10%
Domino’s Pizza Group (DOM) 436.80p 2.73%
RHI Magnesita NV (DI) (RHIM) 3,638.00p 2.65%
Beazley (BEZ) 485.00p 2.62%
Morgan Sindall Group (MGNS) 2,370.00p 2.60%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 259.20p 2.57%
FTSE 250 – Slaughterhouses
Campaign Properties (CSP) 326.80p -20.64%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 233.00p -7.91%
Games Workshop Group (GAW) 8,795.00p -5.28%
Gender (GNS) 4,200.00p -4.42%
Moonpig Group (MOON) 337.20p -4.04%
Chrysalis Investments Limited NPV (CHRY) 217.00p -3.56%
Diploma (DPLM) 2,986.00p -3.43%
Oxford Biomedica (OXB) 1,026.00p -3.39%
Kainos Group (KNOS) 1,605.00p -3.37%
Allianz Technology Trust (ATT) 314.50p -3.27%