Markets: FTSE edges lower in choppy trade

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London’s leading share index pulled back from its session lows yesterday as growing optimism over the health of the United States economy helped to offset concerns about the winding down of central bank stimulus.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index closed down just
3.84 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 6,303.94, having been down as much as 0.7 per cent before the start of play on Wall Street.

Michael Hewson, senior analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “It would appear that, for now, investors seem content to sit on the sidelines ahead of some key economic data, central bank meetings and the US independence day holiday due this week.

“The continued uncertainty with respect to Fed tapering intentions is likely to continue to temper investor enthusiasm until we get this week’s US payrolls report out of the way.”

Financials bore the brunt amid the possibility that the US Federal Reserve will slow its unprecedented stimulus programme.

Aberdeen Asset Management was down 2.4 per cent or 9.2p to 382.4p, taking its fall since Fed chairman Ben Bernanke first hinted that the central bank may reduce its purchases later this year to 22 per cent.

However, luxury goods firm Burberry was 3 per cent higher, up 40p to 1,405p, after an upgrade from broker HSBC on the back of recent strategic initiatives, such as the integration of its beauty range.

Outsourcing firm Serco surged more than 6 per cent after it confirmed a major support contract for the US Medicare and Medicaid health plans.

The deal is thought to be worth as much as $1.25 billion (£958 million) over the next five years for the operator of prisons and the Docklands Light Railway. Serco’s shares are now at a level not seen since the end of 2000 after rising by 40.5p to 665.5p.

NEW YORK: US stocks edged lower as stocks erased gains in late session after the benchmark S&P 500 index found resistance at its 50-day moving average.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 42.70 points to 14,932.26.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index shed 0.98 points to 1,613.98. The Nasdaq Composite index dipped 1.09 points to 3,433.40.

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