Britain’s benchmark FTSE 100 Index fell for the fifth session in a row as Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement gave markets little to cheer.
Upwardly revised UK growth forecasts were already widely expected, while the latest economic estimates from the US appeared to hasten the prospect of an end to money printing. The Footsie closed down a further 11.64 points at 6,498.33.
William Nicholls, a dealer at Capital Spreads, said the crucial figure for markets will be Friday’s jobs figures from the US.
“Non-farm payroll numbers are expected to come out at 180,000 but a significantly higher number could send the markets sharply south as expectation for the December taper reaches fever pitch,” he said.
The FTSE 100 has fallen nearly 5 per cent since its recent peak in October as world markets have been hit by the US taper concerns.
Housebuilders were among those to benefit in the wake of the Chancellor’s speech after he announced new loans worth £1 billion to unblock housing developments including in Manchester and Leeds.
In the FTSE 250, Barratt Developments was 4.9p higher at 324.7p and Taylor Wimpey added 2.4p to 106p.
Supermarkets remained under pressure, with Tesco down a further 6.9p to 333.2p after Wednesday’s 1.5 per cent decline in UK underlying sales. Morrisons was 2.9p lower at 257.8p and Sainsbury’s fell 3.1p to 389.9p.
The malaise was also felt elsewhere in the retail sector, as Next declined 75p to 5,470p and Marks & Spencer slipped 1p to 474.3p.
But shares in low-cost airline EasyJet were higher after it reported a 3 per cent-plus rise in passenger numbers to 4.26 million in November.