After a session that saw London’s blue-chip index flirt with its all-time closing record, stocks ended the day slightly lower despite hopes that Greece will be able to secure a short-term deal.
The country will present proposals to its creditors aimed at saving bailout talks from collapse, but time is running out for an agreement that would keep it solvent and within the euro currency bloc.
David Madden, market analyst at IG, said: “Europe doesn’t want to let Greece go as it has too much at stake, given the popular discontent in countries like Spain, but at the same time it wants to save face, and this is why markets believe a roundabout rescue package will be reached in the end.”
However, with a deal yet to be struck, the FTSE 100 Index finished the session down 0.05 points at 6,898.08, having earlier come within 30 points of a record intra-day high set in 1999.
Wealth manager Hargreaves Lansdown was the biggest riser in the top flight after analysts at Barclays reaffirmed their “overweight” rating on the firm’s shares, which gained 35p, or 3.4 per cent, to 1,053p.
Tesco shares dipped 1.65p to 242.7p following last night’s announcement – which came after the close of play – that John Allan will become its chairman from the start of next month. Dixons Carphone, which said Allan had resigned as deputy chairman, edged up 3p to 433p.
Among other retailers, WH Smith dropped 29p, or 2.2 per cent, to 1,275p after broker Citi downgraded the stock from “overweight” to “equal weight”.
But investors in Scottish Gas parent group Centrica appeared untroubled by the early findings of a competition probe that said some “big six” energy customers were paying up to £234 a year too much in annual gas and electricity bills. Shares rose 1.1p to 281.1p, while Perth-based rival SSE fell 12p to 1,543p.