MARKETS ended a four-day winning streak yesterday amid eurozone fears and signs the world’s biggest economy is stalling.
The FTSE 100 index closed down 31.75 points or 0.5 per cent at 6,384.39 as investors booked profits before eurozone finance ministers’ two-day meeting in Dublin.
David Madden, market analyst at IG, said: “Stocks are still in the red despite the announcement that Cyprus will be given an extra €6 billion (£5.12bn) by the troika to shore up its banks. Equities have pulled back some of their losses but dealers are still wondering if this will be the end of the Cyprus issue.”
Sentiment was also hit by a worse-than-expected fall in US retail sales in March, but the Footsie still booked its best week in three months.
Blue-chip banks were among share fallers despite US giant JP Morgan Chase revealing record first-quarter profits. Barclays, which kicks off the UK bank trading updates later this month, slipped 4.6p to 299.3p and Standard Chartered fell 24.5p to 1,630p.
Insurers also suffered, with Legal & General off 2 per cent or 2.9p to 168.7p after a broker downgrade. Prudential followed with a fall of 18p to 1,063p.
And retailers were brought back down to earth after a hard-hitting research note from Cantor Fitzgerald suggested companies were not reflecting the true reality of the challenging retail landscape and that assets have been overvalued. The broker downgraded M&S and Debenhams to “sell” ratings, lowered Sports Direct from “buy” to “hold” and reiterated a raft of other “sell” recommendations.
M&S fell 0.8p to 399.6p following a rise of 4 per cent in the previous session, while Debenhams dropped 0.4p to 83.4p and Sports Direct eased 0.6p to 426.4p. WH Smith also gave back some of Thursday’s gains, down 9p to 784.5p.
In New York, stocks closed lower on Friday, retreating from the previous session’s record levels as financials Stateside also dropped. However, the major US indices still notched up strong gains over the week.
The Dow Jones closed at 14,865.06, only fractionally down on the day, as investors held their breath on the trajectory of the US economy.