FRIDAY MARKET CLOSE: London pauses as traders bank gains

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Traders in London paused at the end of a momentous week in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 17,000 for the first time.

With further impetus missing due to the Independence Day holiday in the United States, the FTSE 100 Index stuttered in its own pursuit of a new record, edging up just 0.84 points to 6,866.05 in a quiet session before the weekend.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC, said: “Given the gains seen already this week markets in Europe appeared to have packed up for the weekend by mid-morning and were looking forward to a long summer evening and a jug of Pimm’s.”

Mining stocks, which have climbed in recent days on the back of improved economic news, dominated the fallers’ board as Rio Tinto dipped 10.5p to 3287p and Anglo American fell 4p to 1,521p.

Some of the biggest gains of the session were seen in the airline sector after it emerged that the number of passengers flying with low-fare airlines Ryanair and EasyJet increased last month despite the French air traffic control strike.

EasyJet climbed 13p to 1,361p as shares in the sector recovered from recent weakness. British Airways-owner IAG was 2.4p higher at 367.6p.

BT slipped 0.9p to 388p despite its pension scheme trustee agreeing an insurance deal to protect it against members living longer than expected.

Sports Direct was the biggest faller in the top flight, giving away some of the gains made in the previous session, after reports claimed leading investors in the company were set to vote against the re-election of some board members in protest at its bonus scheme. The stock fell 16p to 753p.

ITV rose 0.1p to 183.8p after analysts at UBS upgraded the stock from “neutral” to “buy”, saying it expects the broadcaster’s first-half results to be solid, driven by its World Cup coverage.

Outside the top flight, shares in troubled outsourcing firm Serco fell 1p to 362p after it lost out in the battle to continue running the Docklands Light Rail franchise it has operated since 1997. A note from Oriel Securities said the loss showed that Serco has “fights on its hands” to hold on to business.