The FTSE 100 fell back from all-time highs as investors cashed in on a strong week for European stocks.
London’s blue chip index closed lower by 0.12% or 9.18 points on Friday to end the day at 7,778.79 points, having failed to push past Thursday’s record of 7,787.97 which was sparked by a rise in global oil prices.
Across Europe, the French Cac 40 and German Dax also ended the day in the red, down around 0.1% and 0.3%, respectively.
David Madden, a market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “Profit-taking has set in after a strong run this week, with investors keen to lock in some gains ahead of the weekend.
“However, the positive trend in European equity markets in recent weeks has been restored, and the bullish sentiment could be set to continue next week.”
In currency markets, sterling was struggling to gain traction amid a lack of UK economic news.
The pound fell 0.3% against the US dollar to 1.347 and was down 0.1% versus the euro at 1.144.
In oil markets, Brent crude prices slid 0.7% to around 78.89 US dollars per barrel, losing some of the gains made earlier this week which took it to 42-month highs.
Prices have been rising amid prospects of lower global supplies as the US walked away from the nuclear deal with Iran.
In UK stocks, AstraZeneca shares were among the worst performers on the FTSE 100, after falling 104p at 5,241p .
Investors were reacting to an earnings update which showed the pharma giant’s first quarter profits slumped 36% year-on-year to 374 million US dollars, having been hit by falling margins, administrative costs and increasing competition.
J Sainsbury shares dropped 1.9p to 305.5p as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) moved one step closer to opening a full-blown investigation into Sainsbury’s £12 billion merger with Asda.
The watchdog confirmed on Friday it was probing the deal and was in the “notification” phase, which entails gathering information from Sainsbury’s and Asda before a formal inquiry can begin.
Away from the top tier, Mothercare shares surged more than 20% or 5.5p to 32p as investors cheered news that Mark Newton-Jones has been reinstated as chief executive at the baby care retailer – having been ousted in April.
However, his pay has been docked on his return, with Mr Newton-Jones now on a basic salary of £480,000 compared to the £612,000 he earned prior to his departure.
Carpetright jumped over 11% or 3.75p to 37p after the firm kick-started efforts to raise £60 million in emergency funding, saying it had strong support from shareholders and other investors for the proposal.
It plans to issue 232.5 million new shares at 28p each as it pushes through a painful restructuring plan which will allow the retailer to shut 81 stores and secure rent reductions on others.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Paddy Power Betfair up 195p at 8,600p, Rolls-Royce holdings up 17.6p at 857.2p, National Grid up 18p at 882.1p, and DS Smith up 11.2p at 554.6p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Glencore down 17.5p at 380.35p, AstraZeneca down 104p at 5,241p, Marks and Spencer Group down 5.6p at 291.7p, and Johnson Matthey down 63p at 3,480p.