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FTSE dips after strongest week this year

The FTSE 100 edges lower after a week that has seen the index jump 4% in a strong relief rally.

 
FTSE dips after strongest week this year

Update: The FTSE 100 has dipped after a week that has seen the index rise 3.7% in a strong relief rally.

The UK blue-chip index fell 52 points, or 0.9%, to 5,919, as investors booked some profits from a strong rally, with the FTSE 100 up 7.5% from a year low of 5,504 hit last Thursday.

Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC Markets, said investors were nervous those gains could unravel amid fears over a UK exit from the European Union, as prime minister David Cameron tries to hammer out a deal with his European counterparts.

'Having stalled on Thursday after large gains the previous four days in the context of what has been a very weak market, investors in the FTSE 100 are naturally a little nervous that we're on the cusp of another panicked sell-off,' he said.

'A pullback from current levels in UK stocks is a distinct possibility; especially with considerable uncertainty surrounding prime minister David Cameron's apparent efforts to defend the interests of the City of London during Brexit negotiations.'

Banks came under renewed pressure after a torrid start to the year, with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) falling 3.1% to 244.1p, Standard Chartered (STAN) dropping 2.4% to 411.9p and Lloyds (LLOY) falling 1.6% to 61.5p. 

As bullishness faded, precious metals miners Randgold Resources (RRS) and Fresnillo (FRES) rose to the top of the index, up 3.5% at £64.20 and 3% at 948.5p respectively.

Coca-Cola HBG (CCH) was also among the risers, up 2.4% at £14.06, after reporting a profit lift and an 11.1% hike to the dividend.

'The group's volumes were up in 2015 with established markets returning to growth for the first time in five years,' said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

'The group is faring less well in countries which rely heavily on oil revenues and its net sales were hit by foreign exchange investments. But investors were encouraged by volume growth and a significant improvement in margins.'

Standard Life (SL) was caught up in the renewed sell-off in financials, falling 1.4% to 333.7p despite the insurer beating forecasts with a profit of £665 million for 2015.

'Standard Life is benefiting from some favourable trends in workplace pensions, such as the ongoing shift from defined benefit to defined contribution pension schemes, and auto-enrolment,' said Steve Clayton, head of equity research at Hargreaves Lansdown.

'The group added over 250,000 new auto-enrolment customers during 2015, taking total joiners from the programme to over 820,000.'

Oil stocks were also among the faller, as the price of Brent crude dipped 2.7% to $33.40. Shell (RDSb) fell 1.8% to £15.58 and BP (BP) was down 3.2p at 343.1p.

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