A strong week for week for UK stocks came to a drab end as the FTSE 100 dropped into the red while City traders paused for breath.
The FTSE 250 edged to another record high meanwhile, as it was another day of records for a raft of global markets including the S&P500 in the US, amid broad optimism regarding the international economic recovery.
London’s top flight closed 26.47 points, or 0.38%, lower at 6,915.75 on Friday.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “Its been a solid week for UK stock markets with the FTSE250 making new record highs, while the FTSE100 managed to move above its early year peaks that we saw in January.
“Today’s price action has seen a fairly low-key end to the week, characterised by some light profit taking ahead of the weekend, as the UK gears up for the reopening of non-essential retail stores, and pubs and restaurants outdoors next week.
“We’ve some modest weakness in travel and leisure stocks as it becomes apparent that a return to normal travel wise is likely to face significant barriers in the short-term.”
Elsewhere in Europe, it was also subdued as the other two major indices moved a touch higher despite third wave fears.
The German Dax increased by 0.21% and the French Cac moved 0.06% higher.
Across the Atlantic, the Dow Jones slipped slightly at the start of play following a rise in 10-year bond yields in the US.
Meanwhile, sterling stabilised slightly after a week of significant decline, finishing the session a touch down against the dollar.
The pound decreased by 0.03% versus the US dollar to 1.373 and was up 0.15% against the euro at 1.154.
Housebuilders were among the day’s best performers – with Taylor Wimpey, Barratt and Persimmon all closing higher – after the latest Halifax house price survey showed that annualised prices rose by 6.5% in February with the stamp duty holiday set to keep prices up in the short-term.
In company news, Sports Direct owner Frasers Group saw shares rise despite warning it could take a hit in excess of £200 million due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
The Mike Ashley-led firm said it is planning to reopen vast swathes of its estate from Monday, as non-essential retailers are allowed to welcome back customers. Shares increased by 7p to 504p.
Jet2 slumped in value after the airliner extended the suspension of its flights and holidays until June 23.
It closed 73p lower at 1,294p on Friday.
Deliveroo dropped by 27.5p to 254.5p as its testing start as a listed firm went further downhill, taking it more than a third below its listing price.
The price of oil was subdued as energy traders continued to have concerns over the demand outlook in Europe.
The price of Brent crude oil decreased by 0.21% to 63.07 dollars per barrel.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were JD Sports, up 44.6p at 917p, Spirax-Sarco, up 290p at 12,240p, Weir Group, up 39.5p at 1,854p, and Taylor Wimpey, up 3.5p at 190.05p.
The biggest fallers of the day were BAT, down 72.5p at 2,786p, BAE Systems, down 11.8p at 515p, IAG, down 4.4p at 210.15p, and Glencore, down 5.6p at 288.7p.