Hopes that the Footsie could match the record 11 days of gains last set in July 2009 were lost when weak US jobs data and profit-taking sent the benchmark index into negative territory. The blue-chip index has been flirting with the 6,700 barrier during trading over the past three days, but the chance to push on through this was dashed during the afternoon session. It lost 5.75 points to 6,687.8 after US jobs, manufacturing and housing data disappointed. Despite the dip it is still at levels last seen in November 2007.
David Madden, market analyst at the spread better 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 10 consecutive days of new highs. Less than stellar US data has also given markets pause for thought."
While the top-flight index flinched, the mid-tier table continued to power ahead. The stockbroker Paul Killik, partner at Killik & Co, pointed out that the FTSE 250 broke through its previous all-time high in May 2007 back in December and has pushed on another 18 per cent since then – up 90.53 points to 14,566.54.
Mr Killik says £100 invested since March 1986 would now be worth around £985 on the FTSE 250, compared to only £476 if a punter had invested in the FTSE 100.
Aviva was top of the tree on the leaderboard, up 23.4p to 346.5p, after promising first-quarter numbers.
The advertising giant WPP is currently at a 13-year high, but that is no reason not to invest, Liberum declares. Good global macroeconomic trends and more positive news in the UK is all good for the ad behemoth, and Liberum gave it a 1,156p price target for shares that retreated 1p to 1,155p.
BP slipped 1.8p to 465.8p amid fears that compensation costs related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are spiralling thanks to inflated claims. But sources familiar with the oil giant were surprised at reports saying that BP is lobbying David Cameron to take up the issue with US President Barack Obama next month, saying that this would be strange given BP's ongoing damages case in the US courts. Westminster sources said there had been no contact between BP and the Prime Minister.
It was announced that a handful of BT directors, including the chief executive, Ian Livingston, had sold shares to cover tax payments. Mr Livingston sold 893,214 shares at 305p, but the company still rang up a 3.7p gain to 316.3p.
A falling copper price hit the Chilean miner Antofagasta. It reported a 15 per cent year-on-year drop in revenue to $1.5bn (£985m) in the three months to April, and slipped back 5p to 924p.
The engineer Invensys's full-year profits were in line with expectations at £131m, but it declined 4.1p to 390.1p.
The pub and brewing group Marston's said it was hit by poor weather in the first part of the year, and pre-tax profit for the 26 weeks to April fell by 18 per cent to £27.6m. The mid-cap group said that trade had picked up recently but the shares trickled down 5.5p to 146.9p.
The cold weather was also bad news for the building industry. The construction services group SIG blamed the climate for a likely hit to its first-half performance, and declined 3.6p to 169p.
The builders' merchant Travis Perkins said that better weather in April and early May offset a weak start to the year. Sales for the four months to May were 1.2 per cent lower against the previous year. It said there "should be an improvement in volumes in the second half", and climbed 60p to 1,543p.
The holiday group Thomas Cook announced a £1.6bn debt refinancing and raised £425m through a share placing and rights issue. The shares jumped 19.4p to 164.1p.
Heritage Oil said that it has now resolved production issues and it gushed 8p to 142.1p.
The oil and gas explorer Soco International said production was up 60 per cent year-on-year and jetted ahead 15.2p to 405.6p.
The Aim-listed Rangers International Football Club, managed by Ally McCoist, confirmed that it is looking into calling an extraordinary meeting following calls to remove the club's chairman, Malcolm Murray, and the non-executive director Philip Cartmell by the 6 per cent owner Blue Pitch Holdings. The shares were unmoved at 56.5p.Reuse content