World stock markets came under further pressure today after disappointing US jobs figures spooked nervous investors.
London’s FTSE 100 Index, which started the session on the front foot, lost earlier gains to close just 2.4 points ahead at 5,776.6.
In a busy session for corporate results, drinks giant Diageo was 1% higher after reporting an 11% rise in operating profits.
With chief executive Paul Walsh describing Diageo “as a strong business that is getting stronger”, shares were 17.5p higher at £16.98.
WH Smith also made strong gains in the FTSE 250 Index after it revealed that full-year profits would be at the top end of City expectations. The retail business, which climbed 3% or 15.5p to 597.5p, has been helped by strong book sales.
Building supplies firm SIG was another top FTSE 250 riser, up 8.5p to 102.6p after it reported a 1.9% drop in underlying interim pre-tax profits to £34.7million, but said it planned another £7million of cost savings in 2013.
Elsewhere, Premier Foods edged 1p higher to 67.3p after the £200million sale of its Hartley’s jam and Robertson’s marmalade division to US-based Hain Celestial.
The biggest Footsie risers were Randgold Resources up 255p to £64, Fresnillo ahead 60p to £15.86, Antofagasta up 32p to £11.52 and Glencore International up 9.4p to 366p.
The biggest Footsie fallers were Kazakhmys down 24p to 680.5p, Royal Bank of Scotland down 7.7p to 227.9p, International Consolidated Airlines Group off 4p to 142.9p and IMI down 22.5p to 861p.
Steven McKay, of investment manager and financial planning specialist Brewin Dolphin in Aberdeen, noted that Parkmead moved 2% higher to 12.75p, Cairn Energy added 0.3% to 298.45p and Aggreko closed the day 0.2% higher at £22.59.
On the fallers board, Hunting slipped 1.5% to 787.75p and FirstGroup shed 1% to close at 242.8p.