THURSDAY MARKET CLOSE: Equities see-saw amid mixed signals

Markets suffered a volatile session as traders juggled contrasting signals from Europe and the US.

While the European Central Bank (ECB) was forced into a rate cut due to the threat of low inflation in a stagnant eurozone, US growth figures were seen as supporting the case for the Federal Reserve to trim its stimulus package.

David White, a trader at Spreadex, said: “Global markets whipsawed in light of an unexpected rate cut by the ECB and then against a firm third quarter GDP figure from the States. What began as a reason to bid equities was soon overtaken by a stronger one to sell.”

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The FTSE 100 Index spent some of the afternoon in positive territory but closed 44.47 points lower at 6,697.22.

Fund manager Schroders was the biggest faller, as an “in line” trading update attracted negative broker comment regarding its “premium” valuation. The shares were down 4.4 per cent at 2,491p.

Miners were also out of fashion amid concerns that the strengthening dollar would hurt demand for commodities outside of the US. Anglo American was down 43.5p at 1,512p, and Vedanta dipped 29p at 1,090p.

Randgold Resources bucked the trend, topping the blue chip risers’ board after a bullish third quarter update that showed the benefits of cost cutting as well as rising production. Its stock added more than 6 per cent, up 280p at 4,885p.

Outside the top flight Halfords was also enjoying a good run after bicycle sales surged in the six months to September. It climbed 59.3p to 478p as it reported its first profits growth for two and a half years.

Morrisons shares were 0.9p lower at 280.1p after a worse-than-expected sales decline at the grocer, as chief executive Dalton Philips said he expects sales to grow in its final quarter.