With US markets closed on Thursday as Americans celebrated Independence Day, traders in Europe sat on their hands, waiting to see what the latest jobs figures from the States will show on Friday.
The FTSE 100 barely moved, closing down 5.74 points at 7,603.58, and never moved outside a 20-point range.
David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “It is a quiet day in European equity markets as the US markets will remain shut on account of a public holiday. Trading volumes and market volatility are low as many traders on this side of the Atlantic are sitting on their hands.”
Currencies also stayed quiet, with the pound flat against the euro at 1.1152. The pound shifted up 0.08% to 1.2584 dollars.
Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: “Sterling was likely relieved that it didn’t have any data to contend with on Thursday, given the state it was left in by a trio of PMIs that ranged from the worrying (services) to the woeful (manufacturing) to the truly alarming (construction).
“The lack of news meant the pound was unmoving against both dollar and euro – not good given how close the currency is to a set of fresh six-month lows.”
But there was a dip in oil prices, with a barrel of Brent Crude costing 63.54 dollars, a fall of 0.44%.
Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, said: “Oil slipped lower Thursday following a smaller-than-forecast drawdown and on rising concerns over the health of the global economy.”
In company news, investors seemed unconcerned at the William Hill announcement that it plans to close 700 betting shops, with 4,500 jobs at risk. Shares closed up 0.7p at 164.4p.
Sports Direct shares fell 5.2p to 261.2p after it was revealed that company secretary Cameron Olsen had resigned, making him the second senior director to leave in a week.
A jump in sales at Primark helped shares in parent company Associated British Foods (ABF) close up 18p at 2,462p.
Housebuilding giant Persimmon revealed a drop in half-year sales as it completed fewer homes amid a drive to improve customer service. Shares closed down 23.5p at 1,964p.
Shareholders criticised Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe over his bumper £3.9 million pay deal at the supermarket’s annual general meeting.
It was the first meeting since the collapse of the attempted merger with Asda and the first hosted by new chairman Martin Scicluna. Despite the anger, all resolutions passed and shares closed up 2.05p to 200.5p.
Fashion retailer Superdry unveiled two new heavyweight non-executives in Helen Weir, who until last year was chief financial officer at Marks & Spencer, and Alastair Miller, a former finance chief at New Look.
The announcement came ahead of the company’s delayed annual results but investors were unimpressed, with shares closing down 4p at 437.4p.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were easyJet, up 39.7p to 1,013.5p, Burberry Group, up 37p to 1,949.5p, CRH, up 48p to 2,708p, and Carnival, up 54p to 3,578p.
The biggest fallers were Coca-Cola HBC, down 207p to 2,867p, International Consolidated Airlines Group, down 29.2p to 457.7p, Evraz, down 19.4p to 653p, and Aveva Group, down 108p to 4,062p.