The benchmark FTSE 100 closed down 5.75 points at 6,687.8, retreating from a fresh five-and-a-half year high of 6,714.48 touched earlier in the session and posting its first daily loss in 11 sessions.
The retreat came towards the close of play, sparked by data from across the Atlantic showing higher-than-expected jobless claims and weaker-than-forecast housing starts.
Technical charts also suggested that the Footsie, which is on track for its 12th monthly gain, could be losing momentum.
David Madden, market analyst at IG, said: “Some of the momentum witnessed in recent days has slipped on profit-taking – a not altogether surprising turn of events given the fact that the FTSE 100 has regaled markets with ten consecutive days of new highs.
“Less than stellar US data has also given markets pause for thought.”
Holiday and travel companies continued to gain height after EasyJet’s strong half-year results on Wednesday were followed by signs of a turnaround at Thomas Cook. The tour operator jumped 13 per cent to 164.1p, on the FTSE 250, after it announced a refinancing plan to tackle its debt and a big drop in underlying half-year losses. Rival TUI Travel, listed in the FTSE 100 index, rose by 13.4p to 368.8p and British Airways-owner International Airlines Group added 7.7p to reach 276.7p.
Building supplies firm Travis Perkins climbed 4 per cent or 60p to 1,543p after reporting better sales in April and early May due to a return to more normal seasonal weather.
NEW YORK: US stocks too ended lower last night, with declines picking up steam late in the day after a Federal Reserve official said the US central bank could begin easing up on its monetary stimulus this summer.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 42.47 points, or 0.28 per cent, to end at 15,233.22 while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 8.31 points, or 0.50 per cent, finishing at 1,650.47. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 6.37 points, or 0.18 pecent, to close at 3,465.24.