FTSE 100 Friday close: Market falls while insurer Aviva bounces back

7th March 2014

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Following February’s 4% gain, the FTSE 100 index of the UK’s top firms took a tumble in the first week of March despite upbeat employment news from the US writes Philip Scott.

The widely observed US non-farm payrolls stats showed that the world’s largest economy had added some 175,000 jobs last month but London shares failed to cheer the news.

The blue-chip index slumped by more than 1% over the week to close on Friday, at 6,712.67, marking a 75.82 points fall on the day.

Investment firm, Melrose Industries was the steepest faller amongst the top 100 over the trading week loosening 9% to 299.6p, despite announcing annual profits of £226m, almost double the previous 12 month’s £117.9m. However the group noted that it expects revenue generation to be more challenging in 2014.

Aircraft parts firm Meggitt, was also down over the week, off 6% at 474.5p. Miners, Rio Tinto and Anglo American, also took a hit, falling 7% to 3,200p and 4% to 1,462.5p respectively while bookmaker William Hill shed 5% to close at 377.7p.

Telecommunications firm Vodafone, set to share £51bn with its shareholders, in what is the biggest shareholder payout in corporate history, lost 4% to 238.65p.

The UK’s largest insurer Aviva was among the week’s top risers among the blue chips, jumping almost 7% to 508.5p after it unveiled better-than-anticipated full-year numbers. Following a £2.9bn loss after tax last year, the firm delivered a £2.2bn profit in its latest update.

Ashtead Group also firmed 7% to 939p after the equipment rental company reported a strong 22% increase in third-quarter revenue. Admiral also enjoyed a week of gains rising 4% to close at 1,496p.

Buoyed by a rebound in sentiment towards gold, precious metals miner Randgold Resources moved 3% higher to 4,880p while Financial Times owned Pearson rose 4% to 1,054p.

Among the UK-listed banks Standard Chartered closed flat at 1,265p. The Asian-focused business said profit before tax for 2013 pulled back by 11% to some £3.64bn, marking the end of 10 years of profit rises says the BBC.

Elsewhere in the sector, Royal Bank of Scotland was also flat at 326.7p. For its part Lloyds Banking Group slid 1% to 81.35p, as did Barclays, closing at 248.35p while HSBC fell 2% to 619.6p.

Next week sees updates and results arrive from Antofagasta, security group G4S, Prudential and Morrisons.

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