London’s FTSE 100 struggled for gains on Tuesday as a boost for Asia-focused stocks failed to keep the index in the green.
Financial firms Standard Chartered and Prudential, and mining giants Anglo American and Rio Tinto were among the biggest risers of the day.
It follows reports that authorities in China were considering a plan to help stimulate the economy and stabilise the stock market, helping give basic resources a boost.
The FTSE 100 was trading higher during the day, but slipped into the red by the time markets closed. It was 1.98 points lower, or 0.03%, to 7,485.73.
It was a slower session for top markets elsewhere in Europe, with Germany’s Dax closing 0.34% lower and France’s Cac 40 down 0.35%.
Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst for IG, said: “The past few sessions have seen the FTSE 100 pinned just below 7,500, as buyers and sellers fight hard to establish control.
“The urge to go dip-buying remains strong, but last week’s UK Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation figure continues to loom large as traders reprice expectations around the Bank of England’s next move.
“And without any artificial intelligence (AI) or tech stocks to lift it, the index finds itself unable to match recent gains in the US.”
Nevertheless, traders were in no better spirits over in the US, with the S&P 500 flat and Dow Jones down 0.5% by the time European markets closed.
The pound was down 0.4% against the US dollar to 1.266, and up about 0.1% against the euro to 1.1685.
The price of Brent crude oil surpassed the 80-dollar mark for the first time since late December on Tuesday, amid the second wave of joint US-UK action against Houthi rebels based in Yemen who have launched attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.
In company news, the owner of Primark revealed that its sales increased over the all-important Christmas quarter, ticking up by about 2% on a like-for-like basis compared with the previous year.
Associated British Foods, which also owns sugar and grocery brands, said there had been strong demand for Primark’s Christmas ranges and had been benefiting from higher average selling prices. AB Foods share price was 0.75% higher at close.
It was a good session for Everyman’s share price, which moved higher after the upmarket cinema chain said its sales and earnings had improved over 2023.
The company said it had been slightly affected by writer and actor strikes over the second half of the year, which led to some film releases being delayed.
But it gave a cheery outlook on new releases set to boost visitors over 2024. Its share price climbed by 5.1%.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Standard Chartered, up 25.2p to 605.8p, Endeavour Mining, up 40p to 1,377p, Prudential, up 19.6p to 816p, Antofagasta, up 37.5p to 1,597p, and Entain, up 23p to 983p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Admiral Group, down 74p to 2,485p, Compass Group, down 56p to 2,109p, Unite Group, down 25p to 982p, Persimmon, down 35p to 1,450p, and Rolls-Royce, down 7.1p to 301.8p.