FRIDAY MARKET CLOSE: FTSE struggles to follow euro peers

European growth figures helped markets edge higher yesterday as investors cheered signs the region’s recovery is finally gathering pace.

Germany’s Dax closed 0.7 per cent higher, while the Cac 40 in France lifted 0.6 per cent, but the FTSE 100 Index finished just 4.2 points higher at 6,663.62 despite the hopes surrounding Britain’s major trading partner.

Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG, said: “After almost two weeks of rallying higher, it looks like the FTSE has run out of steam. Having retraced much of January’s fall, this says much about the FTSE’s powers of recovery.”

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Mining stocks dominated the FTSE 100 risers’ board thanks to forecast-beating results from Anglo American and rising metals prices.

But a bout of profit taking saw Anglo’s shares lose early session gains, closing 14p lower at 1,519.5p, despite its lower-than-feared 7 per cent slide in underlying earnings.

Morrisons was one of the biggest fallers in the top flight after this week’s latest disappointing market share figures from Kantar Worldpanel prompted a ratings downgrade from analysts at Exane BNP Paribas. Morrisons shares fell 2.3p to 233.8p, while Sainsbury’s lost 6.8p to 345.2p.

Other fallers included Vodafone after it said it will pay £1.9 billion on additional spectrum licences to boost mobile services in India. Shares fell 3.1p to 218.4p.

Shares in Severn Trent were 22p higher at 1,772p as it said there was currently no material financial impact from the floods which have affected large parts of its region. It said its trading performance for the year to 31 March should be in line with expectations, with consumption slightly higher than a year earlier and bad debt levels maintained at around 2.2 per cent of turnover.