Despite a brief rally as traders welcomed the UK’s first reading of zero inflation, London’s top-flight share index ended a six-day winning streak that had seen it climb to all-time highs in recent sessions.
The slide in the consumer prices index shored up expectations that interest rates will remain lower for longer and helped the FTSE 100 advance to a new intraday record of 7,065.1.
But the fizz later came out of the rally, with the index closing down 17.99 points at 7,019.68.
“Low inflation is normally seen as a sign of slowing economic activity but when it’s driven by lower food and computer prices it’s a good thing,” said Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
However, poor data from China weighed on sentiment in London as a survey showed the manufacturing sector in the world’s second biggest economy contracted in March, in its worst performance in 11 months.
Mining giant Rio Tinto was among the biggest blue-chip fallers, down 58.5p or 2 per cent at 2,884p, while commodities trader and miner Glencore dropped 5.75p to 301.35p.
Despite posting a 10 per cent rise in annual profits, shares in Irn-Bru maker AG Barr lost 37p, or 5.5 per cent, to 640p as chief executive Roger White said the firm’s new financial year had started “slowly”.
Elsewhere, Plumb Center parent group Wolseley closed down 112p at 4,098p as first-half profits were dented by a £245 million write down on its Nordic business.
The biggest riser in the FTSE 100 Index were British Airways and Iberia owner IAG, up 21.5p or 3.6 per cent at 613.5p, while housebuilder Persimmon rose 41p to 1,716p. Rival Barratt Developments was another strong performer, rising 8.5p to 542p.
The biggest faller in the top flight was Primark parent Associated British Foods, down 86p or 2.9 per cent at 2,925p.