The FTSE 100 wiped out initial gains made in morning trading, ending the day in the red, down 0.19%. Supermarket Sainsbury's was among the biggest fallers – the grocer is expected to give more clarity on its possible takeover of catalogue retailer Argos.
After rival bidder, the South-African based Steinhoff, pulled out of the race for the company, it is unclear whether Sainsbury's is still to hike its initial deal for Argos. It is unable to lower its takeover bid of 161.3p per share, which has now jumped to 173p, because shares have jumped since the first offer.
Sainsbury's should have made a final bid by 5pm on Friday 18 March, or there will be no deal. The only exception would be if Argos owner Home Retail's board and the Takeover Panel approve an extension, which would give the grocer more time.
Sainsbury's shares dropped more than 2.6%, while Home Retail plummeted by almost 10% on the FTSE 250 after Steinhoff pulled out of the bidding war.
Also among the biggest FTSE 100 fallers was Berkeley on Friday (18 March). The company raised concerns about the effect of the higher stamp duty. The builder flagged that the higher duty is weighing down the London luxury property market.
Berkeley also said that forward reservations in the quarter to February dropped by 4%. The house builder's shares sunk by more than 3%.
Markets are expected to closely watch the consumer price inflation (CPI) to be published on Tuesday next week, as well as CBI trends. In the US, labour market benchmark figure Jobless Claims are out on Thursday (24 March).
FTSE 100 biggest risers*
Standard Chartered +7.20%
Sports Direct +7.17%
Smiths Group +4.09%
FTSE 100 biggest fallers
Berkeley Group -3.59%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals -1.86%
FTSE 250 biggest risers
Enterprise Inns +7.18%
Allied Minds +5.53%
Mitchells and Butlers +5.00%
FTSE 250 biggest fallers
Home Retail Group -9.93%
Melrose Industries -5.33%
*Data provided by HL and the London Stock Exchange, after markets closed on 18 March