END-OF-DAY REPORT: Headline shares ended the day just slightly lower as a further delay in discussions on Greek debt hit sentiment. With a few exceptions, financials issues and heavyweight miners lost ground.
At the close of business, the FTSE100 was down just 8.87 points at 5,892.2 with the FTSE250 2.59 points at 11,237.74 and the FTSE Smallcaps little changed at 3,010.83.
US stocks moved down on news that talks on a Greek rescue have been postponed for a day without resolution.
Heading into the close in London, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 35 points at 12,828, the S&P500 lost 3 points at 1,342 and the Nasdaq Composite retreated 9 points to 2,897.
The spectre of a Greek debt default hung over the markets today, as talks on resolving the issue were postponed until tomorrow. Meanwhile, a strengthening dollar hit resources prices.
Financial issues were under pressure, although Lloyds Banking Group made steady progress, up 0.91p at 35.3p, and Royal Bank of Scotland edged ahead 0.1p at 28.79p. Elsewhere, Barclays eased 6.05p at 231.4p and Standard Chartered weakened 15.5p at 1,588.5p.
Car specialist Admiral was the worst of the insurers, sliding 39.5p at 998.5p as profit-takers moved in after Friday's strong gains. Meanwhile, Prudential dropped 4.5p at 727.5p and Aviva fell 2.8p at 374.2p.
Hedge fund manager Man Group bucked the trend, ticking up 0.3p at 137p.
Amongst the mining fraternity, reports that Glencore is offering an 8% premium to Xstrata to seal their merger sent shares in Glencore tumbling 21.8p at 460.75p, the worst blue chip performer of the day. Xstrata slipped 31.75p at 1,251,25p.
Randgold Resources was the pick of the sector, up 165p at 7,565p, after reporting profit soared by 259% to $433.4m for 2011. The company also announced it was doubling its dividend payout.
Oil producers put in a mixed showing as crude prices stalled on dollar strength, with Shell down 2p at 2,292.5p and BP, which reports final results tomorrow, adding 5.05p at 489.55p.
Amongst the gainers today, the cigarette makers enjoyed their safe haven status, with Imperial Tobacco up 19p at 2,408p and BAT ahead 26p at 3,069p.
On the downside, the bout of cold weather and subsequent flight disruptions caused turbulence for airline group IAG, down 4.48p at 186.4p, while midcap no-frills rival easyJet lost 6.88p at 472p after revealing falling passenger numbers in January.
With holiday travel also hit by the weather, tour operator TUI Travel, which reports interim results tomorrow, slipped 1.33p at 206.5p. Troubled rival Thomas Cook eased 0.25p at 13.25p.
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