European markets lagged behind Wall Street as speculation over America’s talks on the looming fiscal cliff continued to drive sentiment.
Comments from House Speaker John Boehner that suggested discussions are making progress offered some comfort to US traders, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up by 0.5% at the time of London’s close.
But the improvement was too little to keep London’s FTSE 100 Index out of the red as it closed 9.6 points down at 5912.1.
The outcome of the talks are pivotal to the progress of world markets in 2013 as the US looks to avoid an automatic package of steep tax hikes and budget cuts on January 1.
The pound was up against the US dollar at 1.62 amid the uncertainty, and was also up against the euro at 1.23.
The biggest FTSE 100 risers were International Consolidated Airline Group up 5.8p to 179.5p, Kazakhmys ahead 24.5p to 782.5p, Rio Tinto 80p higher at 3470p and Evraz up 4.8p to 266.5p.
The biggest FTSE 100 fallers were Aggreko down 461p to 1664p, Wood Group off 13.5p to 720.5p, Vodafone 2.75p lower at 158.2p and British American Tobacco down 51p to 3194p.