London pauses after Dow record

Traders in London paused today at the end of a momentous week in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 17,000 for the first time.

The FTSE 100 Index edged up just 0.8 points to 6866.1 in a quiet session before the weekend
The FTSE 100 Index edged up just 0.8 points to 6866.1 in a quiet session before the weekend

With further impetus missing due to the Independence Day holiday in the United States, the FTSE 100 Index stuttered in its own pursuit of a new record, edging up just 0.8 points to 6866.1 in a quiet session before the weekend.

Depsite signs that the US is recovering fast from the bad weather that prompted a GDP contraction in the first quarter of the year, the pound was steady against the dollar, at 1.71, and the euro, at 1.26.

Mining stocks, which have climbed in recent days on the back of improved economic news, dominated the fallers board as Rio Tinto dipped 10.5p to 3287p and Anglo American fell 4p to 1521p.

Some of the biggest gains of the session were seen in the airline sector after it emerged that the number of passengers flying with low-fare airlines Ryanair and easyJet increased last month despite the French air traffic control strike.

Luton-based easyJet climbed 13p to 1361p, a rise of 1%, as shares in the sector recovered from recent weakness. British Airways owner International Airlines Group also rose and was 2.4p higher at 367.6p.

BT slipped 0.9p to 388p despite its pension scheme trustee agreeing an insurance deal to protect it against members living longer than expected.

Sports Direct was the biggest faller in the top flight, giving away some of the gains made in yesterday's trading, after reports claimed leading investors in the company were set to vote against the re-election of some board members in protest at its bonus scheme. The stock fell 16p to 753p

ITV rose 0.1p to 183.8p after analysts at UBS upgraded the stock from 'neutral' to 'buy', saying it expects the broadcaster's first-half results to be solid driven by its World Cup coverage.

Outside the top flight, shares in troubled outsourcing firm Serco fell 1p to 362p after it lost out in the battle to continue running the Docklands Light Rail franchise it has operated since 1997.

A note from Oriel Securities on Serco said: "This loss today shows that Serco has fights on its hands to hold on to business as well as restore new win momentum."

Among other FTSE 250 stocks, online supermarket retailer Ocado was once again one of the big movers, falling 23.9p or more than 5% to 416.1p after two days of solid gains seen as it signalled it is on track to post its first annual profit in 12 years.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Experian up 18p to 1021p, EasyJet up 13p to 1361p, Aggreko up 16p to 1700p and Morrisons up 1.7p 183.9p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 Index were Sport Direct International down 16p to 753p, British Land down 10p to 693.5p, Mondi down 14p to 1059p and CRH down 20p to 1535p.