The FTSE 100 recoiled from its pandemic highs on Thursday despite broadly positive sentiment among most other major markets.
Traders were more positive with FTSE 250 firms, which held marginally higher, and the junior AIM, as the main index lost pace gradually throughout a quiet trading session.
The FTSE 100 ended the day 17.68p, or 0.24%, lower at 7,403.01p.
Sentiment was positive elsewhere but failed to provide a major lift in London as investors and traders took stock after Wednesday’s increase.
Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG, said: “US markets are leading the way higher this afternoon, with the Nasdaq coming back into favour despite recent fears around rising treasury yields.
“With the new year closing in, we have seen markets gradually grind higher on low volumes.
“Market sentiment continues to straddle fears of near-term Covid restrictions and expectations of a swift recovery, with value and growth names fluctuating as a result.”
German stocks finished in positive fashion despite high Covid rates as the markets closed for the year. The Dax increased by 0.21% and the French Cac rose by 0.24%.
In the US, the main markets moved higher on the opening bell as they welcomed an improvement in unemployment data, with claims dropping below 200,000 for only the third time in 22 months.
Sterling moved slightly lower against a bolstered US dollar, which also benefitted from signs of a recovery in its labour market.
The pound moved 0.01% lower versus the US dollar at 1.349, and increased 0.09% against the euro at 1.192.
In company news, British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) saw shares stagnate amid reports the airline had scrapped flights to Hong Kong until March.
Bloomberg reported that the operator will temporarily suspend services in the region as the territory tightens air crew quarantine restrictions to contain the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
Shares in IAG moved just 0.02p higher to 143.48p at the close of play.
Galileo Resources climbed up the AIM index on Thursday after the mining firm entered into a joint venture with Statunga Investments for the development of the Luansobe copper project in Zambia.
Galileo will pay $400,000 by February 20, which will give it a 75% stake in the joint venture, which will work on completing a project feasibility study for Luansobe, it said.
Shareholders received the news well and saw shares rise by 0.1p to 1.075p.
Housebuilder Berkeley moved towards the bottom of the FTSE despite figures from Nationwide showing the UK housing sector rounded off a strong year with more double-digit price growth. It closed 75p lower at 4,824p.
The price of oil saw its rebound lose steam slightly, with Brent crude decreasing by 0.11% to 79.14 dollars per barrel when the London markets closed.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Flutter Entertainment, up 375p at 11,715p, Entain, up 32p at 1,692p, Dechra Pharmaceuticals, up 85p at 5,285p, and JD Sports, up 3.2p at 218.4p.
The biggest fallers were Ashtead Group, down 112p at 6,008p, Berkeley Group, down 75p at 4,824p, LSE, down 108p at 6,960p, and BT group, down 2.1p at 168p.