The FTSE 100 moved lower as the prospect of a long-awaited stimulus package from the European Central Bank (ECB) could not take the sting out of the latest set of worrying data from the Continent.
William Nicholls, a dealer at Capital Spreads, said: “As the ECB rate decision draws closer traders remain cautious, booking some profits and biding their time.”
But he added: “It feels that although there is downside pressure, the upside is limitless and the bulls can sniff an opportunity. If we see a brave [ECB chief] Mario Draghi and a huge US jobs number on Friday we will surely be smashing through new highs again.”
The FTSE 100 index closed 27.8 points or 0.4 per cent lower at 6,836.3 as the London-listed miners failed to take the positives from data suggesting the Chinese slowdown was steadying. Fresnillo dipped 16.5p to 785.5p and Anglo American was down 33.5p to 1,458p.
The big supermarket chains were under pressure as industry data showed their market shares continue to be squeezed by discounters Aldi and Lidl, with US-owned Asda the only one of the “big four” to increase its slice of the pie.
Tesco saw its share in the last three months slip to 29 per cent, from 30.5 per cent a year earlier, according to the figures from Kantar Worldpanel. Ahead of a first-quarter trading update, shares in the UK’s biggest grocer fell 3p to 297.5p.
Morrisons dropped 2 per cent, or 4.2p, to 194.4p, while Sainsbury’s was down 5.3p to 333.8p.
But building supplies firm Wolseley was 53p higher at 3,363p after strong trading in the United States and Scandinavia helped it offset lower like-for-like revenues growth in the UK in the quarter to 30 April.