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Market close: Friday April 04, 2008

A worse than expected drop in March non-farm payroll numbers led to early weakness in the major equity indices. Sharply higher numbers of people out of jobs (rising unemployment) stoked concerns about the outlook for the US economy.

Early in Friday's session, the Dow was down over 97 spreadbetting points, at 12528.16 before recovering to close down 16.61 points at 12609.42. Nevertheless, that closing level was still 393 points higher than the previous week's close for a total gain of 3.22% for the week.

The other leading equity indices managed small gains on Friday as buyers returned to the market into the close. Standard and Poor's S&P500 rose 1.09, to close up 55.18 (4.2%) higher for the week. The Nasdaq finished up 7.68 points on the day at 2370.98 - a move of 109.8 points (4.86%) for the week.

Leading shares in London shrugged off a lack-lustre start to finish strongly into the close on Friday. The leaderboard on the London Stock Exchange was dominated by mining stocks, with the likes of Rio Tinto (RIO) and Antofagasta (ANTO) posting gains in excess of 4% each.

Reports of a potential bid for British Energy by rival French firm EDF Energy helped British Energy to rise to the top of the leaderboard, with a gain of 7.32% for the day. The big fallers on the Footise were mainly retail sector stocks inclusing Kingfisher and Marks & Spencer as concerns about the outlook for consumer spending dampened investor sentiment.

At the close, the FTSE100 was up 55.8 points to close at 5947.10. That represents an impressive gain of 4.47% over the week, with a move of 254.2 points.

The main winners and losers among FTSE 100 stocks were:

FTSE 100 - winners

British Energy Group [+7.32%]
ICAP [+4.64%]
Rio Tinto [+4.63%]
Old Mutual [+4.10%]
Antofagasta [+4.03%]

FTSE 100 - losers

Kingfisher [-2.98%]
Persimmon [-2.97%]
Marks & Spencer [-1.72%]
Enterprise Inns [-1.69%]
Rexam [-1.53%]

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