THE leading index of UK shares failed to make much progress on Friday, although it did continue to trade above the psychologically important 5900 barrier.
The index ended up nine points at 5910. Trading volumes were thin throughout the day and with relatively few companies reporting, the market reacted with caution to more positive figures from the US which outweighed less encouraging growth data from the eurozone.
The US opened higher and stayed relatively buoyant in early trading following news that total non-farm payroll employment rose by 146,000 in November, a figure well ahead of consensus forecasts. The unemployment rate was also positive, falling to 7.7%, the lowest level since December 2008. This was in contrast to Germany where its central bank cut its forecast for next year highlighting that it expects the country to grow just 0.7% this year and 0.4% in 2012, sharply below their forecasts from earlier this year. This heightened expectations that the European Central Bank would announce further measures to support the eurozone in due course.
Turning to the UK, Polymetal International topped the FTSE 100 leader board, up 2.1%. International Consolidated Airlines was the worst performer in the leading index, down 1.8%. Marks & Spencer shares were also off 1.1% after analysts highlighted the tough retail environment, with the company facing stiff price competition this Christmas. In the FTSE 250, ITE Group shares gained 5%, although Kenmare Resources fell 3.9% over the course of the day.
In the North Index, Petards shares fell 8%, closing the day down at 23p. Tanfield shares fared little better, falling 2.6% following the announcement that Vidacos Nominees had acquired additional shares. LSL Property remained volatile, increasing 5.2% over the day to 242.875p.