The FTSE 100 Index struggled to find direction today as fears of a potential gridlock over budget measures in the US continued to plague investors.
London’s main market closed 15.6 points lower at 5,776.1 amid fears America’s election will be followed by a drawn-out battle over the looming fiscal cliff, which will mean automatic tax increases and spending cuts from January 1.
The top flight had spent much of the session ahead as upbeat economic data and progress in Greece helped overshadow concerns over the forthcoming US budget debate.
Outsourcing firm G4S was one of the biggest fallers, sliding more than 3%, or 8.4p to 259.2p after it lost the contract to run the Wolds prison in East Yorkshire.
Another Olympics contractor under pressure was Balfour Beatty – crashing 18%, or 55.9p to 250.1p – after the construction group warned annual profits would be lower than previously expected.
Tesco was broadly flat at 322.2p in a session when rival Morrisons announced a 2.1% drop in quarterly underlying sales, leaving its shares 4p lower at 263.5p.
Aviva rose 1.8p to 330.3p after it said it was in talks over the sale of the company’s US life and annuities businesses.
JD Wetherspoon was 2%, or 9p higher at 521.5p after analysts moved their rating on the pub chain to buy following a 7.1% rise in like-for-like sales for the 13 weeks to October 28.
lan MacPhee, of investment manager and financial planning specialist Brewin Dolphin in Aberdeen, noted Royal Bank of Scotland rising 0.66% to 274.4p and Aberdeen Asset Management adding 0.24% to 334.3p.
FirstGroup fell 4.26% to 187.25p and Eland Oil and Gas shed 1.56% to £1.25.