The FTSE 100 continued one of its most uninspiring weeks in years on Wednesday as it registered another tiny fall.
The index was pulled lower again by its energy components – with National Grid, BP and Shell all falling during the day, alongside mining giants like Anglo American and Fresnillo.
But that was outweighed almost entirely by other parts of the index. Marks & Spencer was at the top of the FTSE after its results on Wednesday morning, joined not far behind by fellow retailer AB Foods.
By the end of the day, the FTSE 100 had fallen 8.32 points, or 0.1%, ending at 7,401.72.
It has been a deeply boring week for watchers of London’s top index. The FTSE 100 gained 0.03 points on Monday before losing 7.72 points on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the FTSE looked like an outlier in Europe, as the German Dax index closed up 0.5% while France’s Cac 40 had gained 0.7%. On Wall Street, the S&P 500 was flat and the Dow Jones was down 0.1% shortly after European markets closed.
“After a slow start to the week, things have picked up for stocks. European markets have made solid gains while on Wall Street things are more muted,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading platform IG.
“But overall the outlook in the short-term continues to look good for stock markets.
“Oil is down sharply from its highs and inflation expectations have come down too. Investors no longer seem to fear that more rate hikes are on their way, though they do seem to be getting a little ahead of themselves in anticipating multiple rate cuts in 2024.”
The pound was unchanged at 1.229 dollars and dropped 0.1% to 1.148 euros.
In company news, Marks & Spencer’s shares soared 8.9% after the business revealed a better-than-expected profit for the last six months.
The retailer said that pre-tax profit was £325.6 million in the period to the end of September, up 56% and nearly £50 million more than analysts had expected.
Elsewhere Reach, which publishes the Daily Mirror and Express, said it plans to cut another 450 jobs as it tries to cut costs.
Shares in the company remained largely untouched by the news, ending the day up 0.1%.
Fellow media company ITV also revealed cuts, saying it would spend £10 million less on content this year, although it would still spend £1.3 billion.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Marks & Spencer, up 18.9p to 244.1p, Rolls-Royce, up 6.4p to 232.4p, AB Foods, up 57p to 2,307p, 3i Group, up 48p to 2,041p, and Unite Group, up 20.5p to 943p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Hargreaves Lansdown, down 17p to 710.8p, National Grid, down 20.4p to 969.8p, Anglo American, down 44p to 2,095.5p, SSE, down 34p to 1,627.5p, and BT, down 2.5p to 121.55p.